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Rock Valley College Student Local History Research 

Fall 2000 

15 December 2000 


This is collection of student work from two English 101 "Composition 
One" classes held at Rock Valley College during the Fall 2000 

The main objectives of this project were: to give students a specific 
focus for their expository essays during the semester, create an 
awareness of the abundance of interesting historical sites and 
activities in the Rockford area, and produce a written summary by the 
students for future seekers of Rockford local history information. 

Each student selected a nearby site, such as a park, public building, 
church, school, or similar historic place. During the semester, the 
students consulted a wide variety of sources, including archival 
documents, photos, and maps, site visits, personal interviews, and 
publications by local historians and authors to gather information 
about their individual site. The capstone experience to that research 
was a required summary paper. A copy of each is contained in this 
collection. An alphabetical listing by topic follows this page. Each 
student paper includes a Works Cited page which the reader may find 
useful in exploring a topic in more detail. 

This project would not have been possible without the help and 
encouragement of Vance Barrie and the staff of the Rockford Park 
District, and the staff, especially John Moyneaux, of the Rockford 
Public Library. 

We hope you enjoy browsing through this material, either for pleasure 
or perhaps as part of your own research project. 

3301 NORTH MULFORD ROAD • ROCKFORD, IL 61114-5699 • (815) 654-4250 • FAX (815) 654-4254 

Fall 2000 Semester 

Rock Valley College English 101 Classes' 

Papers About Local Area Historic Sites 


Anderson Gardens 
Alpine Park 
Atwood Park 
Belford Theater 

"The Winds of Change" by Joann Rhoades 
"From the Lowest to the Highest" by Charles Story 
"Illustrating Atwood Park" by Heidi Leatherby 
"Vogue: Belford" by Jeffrey J. Johnson 

Belvidere Community Bldg. "A Building With a Past And a Future" Pranom Brockman 
Black Hawk Statue (Oregon) "Black Hawk, The Eternal Indian" by Jimmie L. Meyers 
Booker Washington Center "Enduring the Test of Time" by Jeanette Shelton-Kahley 

Camp Grant 
Clock Tower Resort 
Coronado Theater 
Field of Honor 
Greater Rockford Airport 
Gunite Corporation 
Harlem Amusement Park 
Ida Public Library 
Illinois Central Station 
Klehm Arboretum 
Krape Park (Freeport) 

"Camp Grant" by John Linley 

"Clock Tower as a Landmark" by Carmen Ramirez 

"The Coronado: Grab Your Seat!" by Greg Sonneson 

"The Field of Honor" by Robert L. O'Quinn 

"Journey Through Time" by Nicole Gatchel 

"146 Years of Success" by Gary A. Young 

"A Hidden Mystery" by Michael R. Bonham 

"Winds of Change" by Heather Sorenson 

"Where Once Thousands Passed Through" Tim Manning 

"Formation of a Natural Masterpiece" Stephanie Gundry 

"Freeport's Summertime Rest Stop" William Boekholder 

CONTENTS (cont.) 

Machesney Airport 
Marinelli Stadium 
Midway Theater 
New American Theater 
North Suburban Library 
Robin Drive-in Theater 
Rock Cut State Park 
Rockford Bike Pathway 
Rockford Memorial Hospital 
Rockford Public Library 
Rockford Speedway 
St. Anthony Hospital 
St. Edward's Church 
St. James Church (Rkfd.) 
Sinnissippi Gardens 
Sundstrand Corp. 
Tinker Swiss Cottage 
UIC School of Medicine 
Wagon Wheel Lodge 
Winnebago Courthouse 

"Which Rockford Airport?" by Cindy Castle 

"No One To Come Home" by Rick Symonds 

"Midway Theater: Jewel of the City" by Joy Medina 

"A 'Beater' Turned Into a Theater" by Tim Akre 

"The World at Your Fingertips" by Dolores Avila 

"Drive In To The Robin Theater" by Matt Becker 

"Rock Cut State Park" by Greg Thomas 

"Vicinity and Beyond" by Roger A. Bier 

"The Beginning of Care" by Dawn Dandridge 

"RPL: Controversy to a Landmark" by Bill Leese 

" Rockford Speedway: Look At Its History" Wes Symonds 

"The Tradition Continues" by Angela S. Fair 

"St. Edward's Church" by Pam Berg 

"Precisely Through the Point of Assurance" Zeferino Reyes 

"Open the Doors to the Garden" by Haley Mauling 

"Is Diversity the Key to Success?" Randall Reagan 

"Historical Facts of the Humble Cottage" Sherry Gatchel 

"Rockford Municipal Sanitarium/UIC" Aaron Utley 

"From Riches To Ruins" by Jeremy Brumfield 

"Living Memories: The County Courthouse" Debra Hart 

/ \ 

The Winds of Change: 
Anderson Gardens 

Joann Rhoades 
28 November 2000 

Rock Valley College 

Joann Rhoades Rhoades-1 

English 101 NDF2 
28 November 2000 

The Winds of Change 

Who would have known that eight acres of wetland could be turned into 
one of the top landscaping marvels of its kind nationwide? 

Dr. Fenwick Salisbury was an orphan as a child and decided at an early 
age to make something of himself. In 1894, Dr. Salisbury came to 
Rockford with his family and purchased a house at the top of the hill where 
Anderson Gardens is todav. He was one of the earlv dentists in this area. 
The house was referred to as the "House in the Woods" and it was built out of 
wood and stucco. At that time, that area was considered the country The land 
that Dr. Salisbury purchased was believed to be approximately 19 acres, and the 
house was considered a country home, not a farm. The family had problems 
with gypsies camping down by the brook and the gypsies were also thought of 
as thieves. The children were never allowed to go near those people. 

The main road in front of their property was a single dirt road which is now 
known as Spring Creek Road. According to Sally Eichman, (a granddaughter of 
Dr. Salisbury's), "The family owned a buggy and a horse named 'Captain.' Dr. 
Salisbury eventually came to own the first Cadillac in town" (Hobart). 

There was a brook that ran through the property and flowed into the Rock 
River. Their six children would dam up this brook every spring in order to swim. 
The bridge going over the river was once known as the 'High Bridge', and Sally 
"remembers her uncles divina off the "Hiah Bridae" into the Rock River.'' Durina 


the winter the children would slide down the big hill that their house sat on. 

The land was eventually sold to a realtor named Barnes and the family 
moved to a home at 972 North Main, which is now an architect's office 
(Eichman). The "Wood House" was eventually torn down to make way for new 
homes being built in that area. 

The general area at the bottom of the hill was considered a flood plain at 
one time because of the brook running through it. There was an A-Frame 
house built in the area of the brook along with a dome-shaped house. These 
homes were occupied by different owners and were later purchased by John 
Anderson. The dome-shaped house was torn down, however, the A-Frame 
house still stands and is currently known as the Anderson Center. 

John and Linda Anderson bought their home in 1974. The land behind 
their home, which consisted of approximately seven and a half acres, "came 
with if(Makulec). John is a successful businessman who was once part owner 
of Atwood Industries, is a partner with Spring Creek Partners, and is the owner 
of Anderson Industries, formerly owned by his grandfather. John Anderson 
frequently traveled to Japan for business (Makulec). In 1974, John and Linda 
Anderson visited Japan and were inspired to create a garden ("Cultivating"). In 
1978 while in Portland, Oregon on business, Mr. Anderson had a layover. His 
taxi driver took him to Washington Park Gardens, where they have a 
Japanese Garden. It was at that moment that he had the vision of 
taking his seven and a half acres and turning it into a Japanese 

Garden (Gardens blend). John and his wife hoped that this would encourage 
visitors of all ages to learn about another culture ("Cultivating"). 

While in Portland, John Anderson met Hoichi Kurisu, the Director of 
Landscaping at the Washington Park Gardens. Mr. Kurisu designed the 
Japanese section of the gardens at Washington Park and later designed and 
helped build the gardens for John and his wife. Hoichi returns to Rockford every 
spring for a week to visit and assist with any new designs and landscape 
installations that are taking place ("Gardens Blend"). 

In 1978, John and Linda Anderson started the initial development of their 
gardens which was funded entirely by John Anderson. They did not encounter 
any problems while constructing the gardens, although initial development lasted 
for twenty years. Ironically, in 1978, Japan suffered two major earthquakes. 

Anderson Gardens is definitely worth the drive and easy to find, with the 
entrance being directly off of Spring Creek Road, at the intersection of Spring 
Creek and Parkview. If coming from the east, it is the last stoplight 
before the river. If coming from the west, it is the first intersection after 
crossing the Auburn Street Bridge. There is ample parking and they offer 
tours in golf carts for those visitors that have a difficult time getting around. 
Guided tours are also available. Anderson Gardens is open from May 1 through 
October 31, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and Sundays 12 p.m. 
to 4 p.m. (AG. Walking). 


Begin by going to the gift shop and paying the admission fee. The fees 
are $4.00 for adults, $3.00 for senior citizens, $2.00 for students, children under 
4 are free, and every third Thursday of the month is free admission. Anderson 
Gardens offers free admission one day out of the month in order to maintain 
their not-for-profit status (Makulec). 

The tour begins by walking under the arbor-covered in Wisteria. This 
arbor was purposely built low so when guests enter they must bow and humble 
themselves. Follow the path to the right and the pine trees are pruned in a 
formal style known as Bonsai. This technique is done by using bamboo poles 
and twine to get the branches to grow in a certain direction. By doing this, 
guests are able to enjoy the beauty of the plant ( A.G. Walking ). 

Off to the right of the path is a small waterfall, which is designed to help 
calm the spirit by the sight and sound of the water flowing. It is surrounded by 
rocks, boulders, and many mature trees. This is a place to relax and become 
more aware of the surroundings. 

Follow the path to the Zigzag Bridge and dodge evil spirits. It was once 
said that evil spirits only move in a straight line, and if the direction in which a 
person was walking changed, the evil spirit would fall into the water (A.G. 
Walking ). 

The natural, spring-fed pond is on the left and has various species of 
aquatic animals, such as Japanese koi(carp), turtles, large-mouth bass, and 
freshwater clams. There are also manv ducks alona with Canadian Geese. 

One of the many sights is a water basin that was once used by 
guests to wash their hands and rinse their mouths before the tea ceremony. 
By doing this it was thought that one would be pure in mind as well as body. 
Just past the water basin is the Guest House, which combines the four 
elements of the Tea Ceremony: harmony, respect, purity, and tranquillity. 
Mr. Masahiro Hamada is a master carpenter from Tokyo who, in 1985, started 
to build the Guest House, and completed construction in 1986. In addition to 
the Guest House, Mr. Hamada also built the gazebo, many of the garden gates, 
and the Tea House. Just beyond the Tea House is the Gazebo. The Gazebo is 
made of bamboo and stucco and gives the guests a place to rest and look out 
on the gardens. Both the Tea House and Gazebo were partially built in Japan, 
disassembled, and shipped to Anderson Gardens where they were reassembled 
by Mr. Hamada ( A.G. Walking ). 

One of the most breathtaking sights at Anderson Gardens is the West 
Waterfall, which took three years to construct. It contains 250 cubic yards of 
concrete, 700 tons of boulders, and 1600 gallons of water that circulates 
through it each minute ( A.G. Walking ). This writer remembers as a child, going 
past what was to eventually be Anderson Gardens. There were construction 
trucks in and out of there all the time, and yet it seemed like nothing was ever 
getting done since none of the progress was visible from the street. Imagine 
the day when they announced that the Gardens were finally going to open. It 
was a long time coming for the residents of Rockford, and also most certainly 

for all the people involved in the construction and planning of Anderson 

On June 1, 1998, John Anderson created a not-for-profit group to own and 
operate the garden, along with an endowment that was estimated at $4 million to 
$5 million that is to cover ongoing operating expenses (Anderson). 

Anderson Gardens acquired the home at 318 Spring Creek in February, 
1999 for $150,000 to use as their administrative offices ("Gardens Donated"). 

An additional three acres of gardens and a 1/2-acre pond will be opening 
in the Spring of 2001 . Anderson Gardens purchased a Jesse Barloga-style 
home that was built in 1926, and once stood at 312 Spring Creek, in order to 
make this addition possible. Anderson Gardens applied for a demolition permit 
on the same day, but before Mary Hitchcock, the granddaughter of the home's 
builder, tried submitting an application to the Rockford Historic Preservation 
Commission. Applications for sites to be declared historic landmarks must be 
filed before a demolition permit (A. G. Gets). Anderson Gardens purchased 
this home for $525,000.00 and local house restoration contractors and 
Habitat for Humanity were asked to come in and salvage what they could 
before the demolition started (Roberts). 

The gardens were designed to allow people to get in touch with nature 
and enjoy the peace and tranquillity, which is what the expansion will allow more 
of. The expansion is expected to be completed by Spring of 2001 , and 

Anderson Gardens anticipates to gain approximately 100 more parking spaces, 

and where the backyard of the house once was is going to be a new 

garden (McQueen). There is a bridge that will connect the existing gardens with 

the new addition(see photo in Appendix A). According to Jen Makulec, "the 

current expansion is costing Anderson Gardens anywhere from $500,000.00 to 

$1,000,000.00. And this is probably a conservative estimate." This is expected 

to be the last expansion for Anderson Gardens as they have exhausted all of the 

space around them. Anderson Gardens occupies approximately 15 acres 

which includes all the buildings and gardens. 

Jen Makulec also mentioned some other ideas that are being considered, 
but nothing is definite yet. "The gift shop is going to be an exhibit area for 
artists. Some of the other ideas are a possible bed and breakfast, turning the 
Anderson Offices into a restaurant, and creating an area for a retreat." 

The gardens have so much to offer everyone who comes to visit. 
The number of visitors increases every year, from 15,000 visitors in 1997 to 
25,500 in 1999, and they are expecting more people than ever with the 
upcoming expansion. 

Anderson Gardens allows people to get in touch with nature and is a must 
see for everyone. It is truly one of the most beautiful places in the Rockford 

Joann Rhoades Rhoades-8 

English 101 NDF2 
28 November 2000 

Works Cited 

Anderson, Chad. "Gardens' Growth to Uproot Home." 

Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 10 September 2000. 
"Anderson Gardens Gets House Demolition Permit." 

Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 19 September 2000. 
Anderson Gardens Walking Tour Brochure . 

Rockford Rotary Charitable Association. Date not available. 

Pages 1-4 and 7-11. 
"Cultivating Cross-Cultural Ties." 

Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 9 July 1999 9A. 
Eichman, Sally. Phone Interview. November 14, 2000. 
"Gardens Blend Water, Rocks, Plants in Japanese Style." 

Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 26 June 1998. 
"Gardens Blossom as Tourist Stop." 

Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 17 April 1999 1A. 
"Gardens Donated to Community." 


Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 26 June 1998 1A. 
Hobart, Dick. Phone Interview. November 14, 2000. 
Makulec, Jenn. Visitor Services Coordinator for Anderson 

Gardens. Personal Interview. 14 October 2000. 
McQueen, Holly. "Anderson Gardens Needs Space for Parking. 

Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 10 September 2000. 
Roberts, Regina M. "Anderson Gardens Wins Showdown 

Over House." Rockford Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 14 September 2000. 
A.G.=Anderson Gardens 

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Alpine Park: From the Lowest to the Highest 


Charles Story 

English 101, IND 

29 Nov 2000 

Charles Story 

Alpine Park: From the Lowest to the Highest. 

The Great Depression was a time of financial and social trouble in America that 
spanned most of the third decade of the 20 th century. During this time of need, the 
government created several programs and initiatives that were designed to help America 
recover from the financial disaster that had left do many people homeless, jobless and 
helpless. The sum of these programs was called "The New Deal" and one part of the new 
deal was a program that provided labor and capital for local and national construction, 
social enrichment and improvement projects. This project was called the Works Projects 
Administration, or WPA. In Rockford, the WPA was responsible for many projects -- 
Alpine park might not exist were it not for the WPA. Through the creation of the park 
and all the way through today, the history and strength of Rockford and America can be 
seen and experienced. 

In 1937, the Rockford Park District purchased a parcel of 40 acres in an 
unincorporated part of Winnebago County (Park, Morning Star ). The purchase of land 
from the Rockford Trust Company (Appendix 2) was the first purchase made by the Park 
District since 1929, and was purchased at a price of 9,250 dollars (Park, Morning Star ). 
The border of Rockford, in 1937, extended almost to Rockford College (Appendix 2), but 
in 1937, Rockford College would have been considered rural. 

Story 2 

The original purpose of Alpine Park was to provide a place for the overabundance 
of people at Sinnissippi and Blackhawk Parks (Park, Morning Star ). While not actually 
stated as such, research performed by the author implies that Blackhawk and Sinnissippi 
parks were the largest and most widely used parks in the city. The multitude of articles 
and references to park activities of the day also indicate that the intended use of the parks 
was very different than today. Alpine Park was first designed to be a picnic area (Park, 
Morning Star) . Many early parks, including Alpine Park, did not mention playgrounds or 
sports fields. It is the opinion of the author, based on research and context of period 
articles, that the people in that time had other values when it came time for recreation and 

From the beginning, WPA involvement would play a significant role in the 
creation of Alpine Park (Park). While there is no record of the WPA or any outside 
agency providing money for the purchase of the park or building materials, the WPA 
provided all the labor for the outbuildings and the original roads (Park, Morning Star) . 
The workers also cleared tress and prepared the land. The WPA workers built the small 
building that faces Alpine Road and the fireplaces and stone bridge that stand along the 
Alpine Road entrance (Barrie, Park, Morning Star ). The original use for the building at 
the entrance is not clear, but it has become a maintenance/storage area for Park District 
equipment and supplies (Barrie). The fireplaces are still intact as are the remnants ot me 
original bridge. The roads have been repaved and additions have been made, but when 
driving through the park along the bottom of the gorge, it is unlikely that the scene would 
be any different in 2000 than it was in 1939 or 1940. 

Story 3 

The park was open for picnickers unofficially shortly after the land was purchased 
in 1937( Morning Star ), but did not open officially until May 26, 1938. A newspaper 
article ( Morning Star ) indicated that the roads in the park were only finished the day 
before the official opening of the park. 

Since it was opened, the park has been officially modified twice — to add land or 
major works like Alpine Pool in 1969 ( Register Star ). In addition to the pool, a large 
shelter was constructed at the top of the gorge (near Colonial Village Mall) and in 1999, 
the park covers approximately 73 acres. A large handicapped-accessible playground was 
donated by the Alpine Kiwanis Association and in a place originally designed for family 
picnics, now stands baseball diamonds and tennis courts. 

The city had also grown up around the park. In a 1937 map (Appendix 2), The 
east side of Rockford does not reach Alpine Road. Over the years, residential enclaves 
sprawled eastward and the commercial districts that support them followed. By the early 
seventies, the once rural area around the Alpine gorge had become a bustling commercial 
district. The southern border of the park became the backyard to a place called Colonial 
Village Mall — a new concept at the time. In 2000, the mall and the associated 
commercial area are struggling to survive obsolescence. 

The side of the gorge opposite Alpine Road went mostly undeveloped because of 
the steep hills until 2000 when a 9-hole golf course opened. 

A tour through Alpine Park is a tour through history. The park can be divided into 
two distinct areas: the old park and the new park. 

The old park begins at the Alpine entrance (One can also enter the park from 
behind the Mall). A time warp exists between the Alpine entrance at the bottom of the 

Story 4 

gorge and after passing the original stone building and the limestone bluff. On one side 
rests the present world and the constant frenetic pace of a technology driven world. Enter 
the park, however, and the traffic sounds die away. A canopy of trees rises above the land 
to protect the world below from intrusion. When looking around at the antiquated stone 
stoves and paths that cut through the vegetation, it could be a hundred miles away from 
any town - and for the author, it might as well be. 

Continue along the road ad follow the natural curve of the land and soon after, the 
new park will appear. The new park is dramatically different than the old park in that it is 
open and clean, with manicured grass and playgrounds and parking lots and the things 
that make parks in the latter part of the 20 th century identifiable. 

Around the curve and past a fork, lies the "Alpine Kiwanis Accessible 
Playground." The park was dedicated in 1989 (Barrie), and bears the name of the 
organization that donated it. 

Once the old park is left behind, the city returns. In the new park, it is clear that 
the city is all around as the shopping mall looms over the southern end and the large 
masses of asphalt cannot be missed. 

Alpine Park is a testament to the strength of America and her people. I f for no 
other reason, it is that Alpine Park came into being during a dark time in American 
history — a time when many families were only able to make ends meet with the help of 
others. Even then, during a time of need, the people still understood that recreation and 
"downtime" were important and necessary. As time has passed, America has grown. 
Rockford has grown and with it, the park has grown in kind. Alpine Park is a historical 
marker of the growth and life of Rockford, from the picnic area by the limestone bluff to 

Story 5 

the tennis courts that have long lost favor for the people who would rather cycle or roller- 
blade, to the playground and swimming pool. From the lowest time in the 20 th century to 
the greatest economy in American history, a time when more people have more and can 
do more, Alpine Park has grown with us. 

Works Cited 

Parks, General (Rockfordianana File, Rockford Public Library, Main Branch). 

No page, Multiple dates. 
Rockford Morning Star. 17 Jun 1937. No page. From Rockfordiana File (Parks, General). 
Rockford Register Star. 1 Apr 1972. No page. From Rockfordiana File (Parks, General). 
Barrie, Vance. Telephone interview. 30 Nov 2000. 
Poster, Workers Service Program. By the People, for the People. Posters from the WPA 

1936-1940. (Appendix 3). 
Property map of Rockford circa 1935. (Appendix 2). 


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Illustrating Atwood Park 

Heidi Leatherby 

December 14, 2000 

Rock Valley College 

Heidi Leatherby Leatherby- 

English 101 DR1 
14 December 2000 

Illustrating Atwood Park 

For the best and most universal outdoor experience, a place with unlimited options and an 
excellent history, Atwood Park in New Mil ford Illinois is the choice that will beat everything 
else, since it has a great history and many things to do. 

The large area of land which is now Atwood Park was originally used as a military 
training base called Camp Grant. It served as a rifle range starting in July 1917. It was first used 
by the U.S. Army's 86 th Division during World War I. It was used as an infantry replacement 
and training camp, and after that, a demobilization unit. The camp was deactivated six years 
later and was used by the Illinois National Guard as a training ground until December 1940. With 
the beginning of World War II came the reactivation of the camp. It was one of the largest troop 
induction centers in the country. It also served as a POW camp where members of the German 
Afrika Korps were held. The Rockford Police Department used this area for pistol practice after 
the war, leasing it through the early 1950s ("The History"). 

The land used for Camp Grant was a large area, and it would have been a shame for it to 
go to waste. A man by the name of Seth B. Atwood came up with the idea to create an 
educational area for students, as well as a park for everyone to enjoy. Atwood was a Rockford 
industrialist and president of the Park District. He began by purchasing 321 acres of the Camp 
Grant land on February 14, 1956. He wrote out a personal check for $15. 818.87. Later, the 
Rockford Airport donated 70 acres to the park, making a total of 382 acres (Atwood). Farl F. 
Elliot was the park district superintendent at the time, and handling the legal transactions was 
Stanly H. Guyer ("Atwood"). 


Construction started as soon as the many contracts were taken care of. The general 
contract was given to Oldenbburger and Sons, Inc. with a bid of $69,983. The plumbing contract 
was awarded to J.Carlson and Son, Inc. for$25,527. Strickland Heating and Air Conditioning 
Co. took care of the heating and ventilation with a bid of $1 5,300. The electricity contract was 
taken by Broadway Electric Co. for $7,1 21 ("Award"). 

Work started on the main lodge in September of 1959. It was set to be 120 x 52 feet with 
a price of $120,000. Designing it was Architect A. Reyner Eastman who also drew up the plans 
for the other buildings including: 2 dormitories, a 29 x 51 dining hall with a fireplace, a kitchen 
and the recreation room. Other facilities such as the library, workroom, meeting room, resident 
director's room, administration and camp store room, counselor's room, and storage space were 
also designed by this man ("A ward"). 

The buildings were not the only structures under construction. The large white 
suspension bridge was started in May 1959. George Pedlow was the engineer, and Wisconsin 
Bridge and Iron Co. from Milwaukee was awarded the contract for $75,000. Stretching over the 
Kishwaukee River, the bridge was built to join the north and south ends of the park. Work on the 
bridge lasted four months, and was completed on the 27 th of September ("Suspension"). 

As the construction came to an end, the open house was held on October 1 6. 1 960. It 
consisted of dedication ceremonies for the buildings, the meeting of the outdoor education staff 
as well as Rockford Park District commissioners, and the first tours of the park("Plan). 


The week-long education programs began with only 6 th grade classes taking week-long 

trips. In the first year, 16 classes were signed up ("Plan"). This changed quickly with the 1 962- 

63 school year. This was also the year when the Rockford Board of Education took over the 

program. Over 6,000 students took part in the program that year, and in many ways. Instead of 

only 6 th grade students, 5 th and 7 th graders took part in the week-long programs. In addition to the 

week-long excursions, 3,925 students ranging from kindergarten to college made day trips to the 

park ("6,105"). 

Fourteen years after the Rockford Board of Education tood over the program, they could 
no longer finance it, so it was shut down. That didn't last long though. In the spring of 1977 the 
Park District began the program again ("Rockford ,, 1 ). 

As the amount of student involvement grew, a split program was eventually started with 
Aldeen Park in 1987 with 4,200 students attending yearly. Progress was also made with the 
Birds of Prey exhibit. "To begin with, we had only two birds: a hawk and an owl. Now we have 
many other species including a bald eagle, a red-tailed hawk, a kestrel, screech owl, and a great 
horned owl," Rhoda Bombard said. 

Not all of the changes were considered beneficial. Perhaps the most drastic change 
occurred when a fire destroyed a central part of the park ("Rockford'" 1). This was one of the 
very few changes that caused any harm to the educational program at Atwood. 

Even though the Educational Program at Atwood Park has changed in some ways, many 
of the features have stayed the same. From the beginning, each student was required to pay a fee 
to cover the costs of food and other expenses ("Rockford" 24). This has been great for the 
Rockford taxpayers since it is one less thing they have to pay for. Summer camps and outdoor 

lessons have remained fairly unehanged. Always accompanied by a counselor, students arc- 
taken into the park . They hike the trails, learning about birds, rocks,plants, and animals. Often 
examples of these are pointed out by the counselors, giving the students a hands-on experience. 
Atwood still offers the resident program, giving students a chance to stay in the dorms for up to a 
week, experiencing much more than they would on a day trip, which are also offered. As well as 
the basic educational program, there is a teams course made up of an intricate maze of ropes, 
rings, and other obstacles. In the winter, Atwood carries on with their cross-country skiing 
program (Bombard). 

Atwood is not only a place for students. As this author experienced, greeting all its 
visitors, Atwood park opens with a black paved walkway about 1 feet wide, running through the 
entire park. It turns and moves around with the rest of the forest, making it easy to see this great 
place without having to undergo the dangers of a hardcore trail hike. It is awesome to have this 
asphalt trail to follow, but for the more adventurous, there will always be an opportunity to go off 
on a march that will take one deep into the soul of Atwood, following the trails as if they lead 
nowhere and everywhere, not knowing what to expect, or how to get back. These trails don't 
mess around, either. Anyone can leave the comfort of the black cement trail at any time, and 
right off the bat the ground scampers upward, leaving the hiker to stay on top of the dirt, wood 
chips, and pebbles until they finally taper about a mile or so up. Then, like a dropping piece of 
paper, the earth wanders back down, slowly, until the bottom is reached, and the black paved 
walkway can be seen once again. 

I liking the trails is not the only way to experience Atwood Park. It just so happens that 
the Kishwaukee River runs into, through, and around it. making it an ideal place for canoeing. 

rafting, or cooling off on a hot summer afternoon. This beautiful river rambles lazily through 

Atwood Park like a retired park ranger who could walk the beaten paths without opening his tired 
eyes. It is a manageable river, and even the most inexperienced rafters or canoers can take part 
in it. If one were to fall in, the cold water would surround them like prickly branches at first, 
then, after a while, it may become quite inviting, making the perfect opportunity to swim around 
for a little while. Its radiancy however, outweighs all of its simplicity. Sparkles of light dance 
off the muddy-colored water on a sunny day, giving just enough charm to entice even those who 
are not close enough to dip a toe in and feel that coolness. An alabaster bridge with just enough 
give to swing and bounce with the weight of a few people lays across at one point, leaving a 20- 
foot drop to the water below. 

Atwood Park is definitely filled to the highest point with everything a park should 
include. Whether it is the wonderful and intriguing history, the complete and useful education. 
or a hike on trails which seem to go on without ending, this place is certainly worth visiting. 

Works Cited 

"Atwood Purchases Public Park Site" Rockford Register Star. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 8-1-56. 
"Award Work on Atwood Park Lodge" Rockford Register Star. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 9-17-59. 
Bombard. Rhoda, Telephone Interview. 1 0-3 1 -00. 
"The History of the Atwood Park Site'" Rockford Register Star. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 5-22-95. 
"Plan Outlook Education Center Rites' 1 Rockford Register Star. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 10-13-60. 
Rockford Park District. Atwood Outdoor Education Guide, pamphlet. 2000-2001 . 
"Suspension Bridge Nears Com$\o\\on''' Rockford Register Star. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 9-27-59. 
"6,105 Pupils Try Outdoor Education^/toc^/brt/ Register Star. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 8-9-63. 

Jeffrey J. Johnson 


13 December 2000 


Vogue: Bel ford 

Johnson - 2 
Vogue: Belford 

Vogue can be described as the leading place in popularity or acceptance, a period 
of popularity or one that is in fashion at a particular time (Merriam-Webster 1 320). A 
local example of this is located at 8301 East State Street in Rockford (Ameritech 607). 
This spot has been popular for many years dating back to the 1960's. 

The year is 1964; the farmland at the southeast corner of U.S. 20 and Lyford Road 
is rezoned to permit construction. It is for an indoor-outdoor theater. The co-owners of 
this new theater are Oscar Granquist and George Kerasotes. Another outdoor theater site 
at Bell School Road and U.S. 20 is denied a zoning change because the area is residential 
and the residents have objections ("Zoning" 1). 

As people celebrate the news of the excavation of the new theater, the rest of the 
world is making its own news. Malcolm X, a Black Nationalist leader, is killed during a 
rally in Harlem. United States sends the first troops to Vietnam. At the end of 1965, 
190,000 American soldiers are in Vietnam. Also, The Sound of Music is a top-grossing 
film at the box office ("1965" 1). 

Construction begins as soon as zoning clearances are processed. Granquist and 
Kerasotes also co-own the State Theater in downtown Rockford, Illinois. They plan to 
open the Belford in May 1965 ("New" 1). They decide to name the theater "Belford" 
because it is a contraction of Belvidere and Rockford ("Belford Theater" 1 ). The cost of 
the land and structure totals $75,000 ("New" 1). There are delays during construction that 
pushes back the opening of the theater to December 23, 1965 ( 1 ). 






Johnson - 3 

The deluxe theater has all-weather comfort. Moviegoers can park in a spacious 
parking lot that can accommodate 500 cars. Once inside, they can enjoy the movie in an 
air-conditioned 1,000-seat theater. They can also watch the movie on a 120-X-72-foot 
screen (1 ). If an adult accompanies children, the admission is free. If unaccompanied, 
they have to pay 50 cents ("The New" 1). If moviegoers decide to go to the outdoor 
theater, they can use the ramp parking which is spacious enough for 1,000 cars ("New" 
1). Patrons can watch the movies on a 120-foot plastic-coated steel screen. The drive-in 
also has high-fidelity in-car speakers ("The New" 1). 

Both screens show the same films at different times. The indoor theater has a 
daily matinee and the outdoor drive-in program starts at 7:00 p.m. Patrons can buy their 
tickets at the entrance. Opening movies for the first night are an animated movie, 
Pinocchio in Outer Space , and an Elvis Presley musical, Harem Scarum ("Belford" 1). 

It's very interesting to go back and see the steps it took and to see what a theater 
was like on opening night. From the first show to the last, the Belford Theater was a 
popular spot. It had seen many faces throughout the years until it closed in 1994 (Bonne 
16). Kerasotes demolished the theater to build a sixteen-screen multiplex theater. 
Kerasotes opened the Showplace theater in 1996. Although the buildings have changed. 
the experience remains the same. 

The Showplace and Belford theaters opened with the same philosophy. Both 
opened as the hottest new theaters in Rockford, offering more movies to the customers 


Johnson - 4 

while satisfying the customers' needs. But the Belford theater realized as time goes by, 
the customers' needs change (Collinge IB). The need for change brought new ideas. 

One of the new ideas was accessibility. The Belford had a poor entrance. 
Anybody going to the Belford could only enter from one road, which caused headaches 
because it produced long lines. Those long lines caused cars to be bumper-to-bumper all 
the way back onto a major road in Rockford. Also, after each show, the Belford exited 
cars from both the outdoor and the indoor theaters to that same road. This caused 
bumper-to-bumper traffic in the parking lot. The Showplace theater changed the 
accessibility problem into a solution. This new theater has two entrances with stoplights. 
One is located on the east side and the other is on the west side of the theater. These new 
roads make it easier on the driver when entering or exiting. 

Another new idea was to change structures. The Belford became one of the 
smaller area theaters as times changed. The Belford found itself outdated. The Showplace 
offers sixteen indoor theaters to Rockford and the surrounding areas. It also offers better 
views of the screens from its new angled seating area, bigger and better bathrooms and 
many cashiers selling tickets (Kerasotes 1). 

Also, the Showplace can compete with other theaters where the Belford could not. 
The Belford could not commit to the movie companies to show a movie for a long period 
of time. This caused the theater to show movies that were already past their prime. Other 
theaters benefited from this (Collinge IB) and poor ticket sales led to the closing of the 
Belford (Bonne 16). On the other hand, the Showplace can commit to main movie 

Johnson - 5 

companies, which so far has attracted large audiences. 

There are, however, similarities between these two theaters. One is the options at 
the theaters. Both give the public a variety of movies to watch. Another similarity is the 
many concession stands, knowing that a customer does not want to wait for anything. 

One more similarity is the atmosphere. Thirty years ago, a person could ask, 
"Where is a fun place for all ages that also has energized audiences?" That person would 
probably hear "the Belford" as a response. Today, a person could ask that question and 
hear "Showplace." From the smell of popcorn to the ample parking, the Showplace 
reminds people of what used to be there. 

Dean Ives, a person that works with this author, talks about the new Showplace 
theater that is located on the same land where the Belford used to be: 

The Showplace theater offers a lot more. It's hard to think about what used 
to be here. A lot of people loved the Belford and will probably think of it 
every time they visit the new Showplace theater. People will realize that 
this place will always be popular. In thirty years, a new building will 
probably take the place of Showplace and our kids will talk about it 
passionately, like the way we talk about the Belford. (Ives 1 ) 
The Showplace has seen many faces throughout the five years that it has been 
open. It's about time the entertainment industry met the customers' need in showing them 
a good time. It's too bad they had to tear down the last "drive-in" movie theater to give 
everyone a satisfying experience. 


■ ' 

Johnson - 6 

A picture of the Showplace theater in 1996. 

Our Oprninq CHn\tmos &iM To You! 
Th« fir*f200cor\udr». ♦» .1 FREE 
Thur*., Pri. and Sot, Motinct only 

k jthfatrk ONFinrATinN 

A picture of the Belford theater in 1965. 




4>« OTflCMOJT 


A picture of the Belford's first ad in the Rockford Register Star in 1965. 

Johnson - 7 
Works Cited 
"1965." Looksmart Fast Facts (Oct. 2000): 4 pp. 1 1 Oct. 2000 

Ameritech. Area Code 815. Illinois: Ameritech Publishing Inc, 2000. 
"Belford." Rockford Register Star 23 December 1965. Rockfordiana Files. 
"Belford Theater To Open Today. " Rockford Register Star 23 

December 1965. Rockfordiana Files. 
Bonne, Mark. "Fade to Black." Rockford Magazine October 1994: 16-18. 
Collinge, John. "Decline of the drive-ins leaves Belford a rarity." Rockford Register 

Star 22 August 1987. 
Kerasotes. "Welcome to" (Sept. 2000): 2pp. 2 Sept. 2000 

Ives, Dean. Personal interview. 13 Oct. 2000. 
Merriam- Webster Inc. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. Massachusetts: 

Merriam- Webster, 1986. 
"The New Dual Belford Theaters Open Today." Rockford Register 

Star 23 December 1965. Rockfordiana Files. 
"New Theater Excavation Under Way." Rockford Register Star 19 

November 1964. Rockfordiana Files. 
"Zoning Approved for Motel, Theater at U.S. 20, Lyford." Rockford 

Register Star 09 October 1964. Rockfordiana Files. 





The Belvidere Community Building 
A Building with a Past, a Building with a Future 

Pranom Brockman 

10 Dec 2000 
Rock Valley College 


D U I L D I N G 

Pranom Brockman 
English 101 I N D 
10 Dec 2000 

A Building with a Past, a Building with a Future 

The 62-year-old Belvidere Community Building was originally built for the 

Belvidere High School to be used for, gymnasium- auditorium. At the same time, Boone 

County needed the building for community activities. The building was built in 1938. 

Superintendent Ralph E. Garret played a mayor part in proposing the building to the 

Boone County Board of Education. Garret said; 

From a strictly education standpoint, absolutely without reference to 

the many social athletic and community advantages of the propose 

a new building, I want to go on record as saying that the 

construction of this buiding is imperative ( Garret). 

The children's education and the children's future were very important to Mr. Garret, 

during his years in the education administration at Belvidere High School. 

The Boone County Board of Education took Garret's proposal to the community, 

and many meetings took place before the community voting began. There were 1,134 

people who showed up to vote for the new building, and 933 people vote yes. The 

community and Boone County Board of Education, accepted the new building with an 

agreement of no new local tax increases. " Funding for the new building came from the 

school distric, which paid $ 68,750 and the federal government through W P A, which 

granted the community $56,000" ( The Community Building file). 

, * ! 




i ■ 


1, « 


' X 




The architect for the Community Building was Raymond Orput. Bloom & 
Hokanson of Rockford, were the general contractors. Construction of the Community 
Building was done with the aid of W P A workers. The construction began in October 
1938. During construction on the Community Building, there were many problems, 
starting with a big snow storm in November, when the workers lost 20 days of work 
There was a small fire from one of the worker's cigarettes, which damaged one of the 
front doors. The police were called in to stop a dispute between union workers. The Iron 
workers union of Rockford objected to union Carpenters drilling through steel, to install 
seats in the auditorium. The contract extension had to be made from W P A workers, due 
to the many problems. The construction on the Belvidere Community Building took 1 1 
months to finish, and was dedicates on October 12, 1939 ( The Community Building file) 

The Belvidere Community Building was used as a high school gymnasium- 
auditorium from 1939,-1966. As the years passed, the high school be came over crowed, 
so the Boone County Board of Education had to make some changes, by building a new 
high school on East Avenue in 1966. The same year, the Belvidere Junior High School. 
which was part of Washington Graded School, became over crowed. The Belvidere High 
School moved to the new location and the Belvidere Junior High School moved into the 
old high school building. 

The Community Building became the junior high school gymnasium- auditorium. 
and remained as the Community Center for activities. As the population in the area 
increased, more room was needed for the Belvidere Junior Hiuh School students In 1989, 


graduation ceremony in 1 977, and the air conditioner was not working that night, and the 
building was filled with parents of the graduating students. The school official had to rush 
through the ceremony, because it was so hot inside the building without the air conditioner 
running. That was not happy memory, but there were more happy events after that. The 
ice cream social was held there two years later, by the Belvidere Bank The event was for 
the Junior Bank Club, and the writer's daughter was a first time member of the club There 
was a clown attending the event, who made various animals shape out of the balloons for 
the children. The bank provided ice cream, caramel corn, punch, and coffee for the 
children and their parents. 

Many years later, the writer returned to the Community Building for another 
event, and that was a Christmas program for the Celedonia Graded School. The writer's 
daughter was in the school play for the first time. She played Mrs. Claus, and the evening 
ended with everyone very happy. A few years down the road, the writer returned again to 
the Community Building. That was for a Junior High School girl's volley ball game. The 
Lady Bucs were play outstanding that night, and among them was the writer's daughter 
The Lady Bucs won the game. Two years later another event happened, which was the 
Junior High School boy's basketball game. At the time, the Belvidere Junior High School 
had already moved to the new building, but some of the events were still being held at the 
Community Building. The boy's basketball game was one of the events. The writer's son 
was one of the team members. When the writer inside the Community Building, all the 
memories came back, and many happy events happened in here. 

Three generations of the Brockman family have used the Community Building for 

the school gymnasium. Virgil Brockman used the building from 1948-1951, as high school 
gymnasium. " The basement of the Community Building was a cafeteria, but the students 
were not allowed to use the cafeteria, only on special occasions." In 1954 Virgil attended 
a professional wresting match held at the Community Building Starting Vern Gonya. 

Tim Brockman, who is the son of Virgil, attended Junior High School there from 
1967-1968, and the Community Building was still being used as a school gymnasium For 
the first time, Tim saw the I Iarlem Globe Trotters play at the Community Building when 
he was ten years old. " The players looked seven feet tall, and they were doing all the 
fancy moves out on the court." 

Many years later, Meno Brockman attended Junior High School in the same 
building from 1988-1989. Meno is Tim's daughter, and a third generation of the 
Brockman family to have used the Community Building as a school gymnasium. 
" Mr. Ilamer ( the boy's P.E. teacher) made the students scrape off gum from under the 
wooden seats, when they got a detention during P.E. inside the Community Building." 

Jim Hardy recalled being in the Community Building basement, when the tornado 
went through Belvidere in 1967. " We could not come upstairs to see anything, but the 
sound was like a train going over the building." The Community Building was not touched 
by the tornado. Jeff Miekie attended an R. E. O. Speedwagon concert held at the 
Community Building in 1970. " The building was packed with high school and junior high 
kids, that was a big event in Belvidere at that time." These are just a few of memories 
people who live in Boone County have had of the Community Building. 

The building is 62 years old, but still very valuable to the community 

The Belvidere Community Building is a place a to rent for various small events. Some 
events are: birthday parties: anniversaries: wedding: and retirement parties. The lower- 
level has four meeting rooms. People can rent by hourly rate. The price to rent is 
inexpensive when compared to other well- known organizations. The money goes back to 
restoring the building. The Community Building is located on First and Pearl Street, in 
Belvidere Illinois. 

This building has been a part of Boone County for 62- years, and it is an historical 
landmark. Many generations has used this building as a school gymnasium and community 
activities, and The Community Building will continued to serve the people as the 
Community Center for many generations to come 

Works Cited 
Brockman, Meno. Telephone interview. 4 Nov. 2000. 
Brockman, Tim. Personal interview. 1 Nov. 2000. 
Brockman, Virgil. Personal interview. 8 Sept. 2000. 

The Community Building file, Bloom & Hokanson, Orput, Raymond, W P A. 
Garret, Ralph. " New Building Badly Needed." Belvidere Daily Republican 19 July, 1938. 
Hardy, Jim. Telephone interview. 20 Nov. 2000 
Ida Public Library The Community Building file. 

Kays, Hubert. Telephone interview. 24 Nov. 2000. 


" Landmark's future in question." Belvidere Daily Republican no date. 

Miekie, Jeff. Telephone interview. 21 Nov. 2000. 

" Lower-lever project almost finish at the Belvidere Center." Rockford Register Star 30 

June, 1999. 
" One percent tax OK'd by Council." Belvidere Daily Republican 7 Feb, 1995. 

I Clllllt IX). .!■> 




VOL. 1, No. 1 FRIDAY, DECEMBER 20, 1947 

Black Hawk, The Eternal Indian 

Jimmie L. Meyers 

Rock Valley College 
November 30, 2000 

Black Hawk, The Eternal Indian 

Jimmie L. Meyers 

Rock Valley College 
November 30, 2000 

Meyers- 1 

Jimmie L. Meyers 
November 30, 2000 
English 101 Woodward 

Black Hawk, The Eternal Indian 

At one time the Rock River valley was home to the native Fox and Sauk Indians. 
The land they called home was some of the most beautiful in the Midwest. It was also 
fertile for crops and wild game was abundant. As the white settlers pushed west, the 
native Indians were exiled from their land and pushed across the Mississippi to what is 
now Iowa ('Towering"). In 1832, a starving band of those Indians, led by a warrior 
named Black Hawk, came back to their land looking for food ("Towering"). A bloody 
war, which was fought up through the valley and into Wisconsin, soon followed and 
Black Hawk eventually was forced to surrender ('Towering"). He was sent to prison and 
then eventually released and sent back across the Mississippi to live with his people. 
There are many historic sights in the Rock River Valley that account for this war against 
the Indians. The most well known local monument, constructed in remembrance of the 
native Indian, is the Black Hawk statue just north of Oregon, IL. The statue was built to 
symbolize the native Indian who once roamed this valley ("Eternal"). 

The Black Hawk statue was built about one mile north of Oregon on the eastern 
bank of the Rock River. It stands 48 feet tall and approximately 200 feet above the river, 
high in the bluffs, and can be seen for miles ("State"). When it was first built. Wallace 
Heckman, an attorney for Chicago University, owned the land it stands on ("Indian"). 
Heckman later sold the land to the State of Illinois for what is now Lowden State Park 
("Lowden Park"). 


On Heckman's land, back at the turn of the century, was a place known as the 
Eagle's Nest Colony ("Lowden State"). This colony was where many of the area's 
artists, sculptors, and poets spent their summers ("Lowden State"). Two very important 
people responsible for the creation of Black Hawk were part of this colony ("Lowden 
State"). Artist and sculptor Lorado Taft was one of the moving spirits of the colony and 
it was here that Taft created many of his famous works of art ("Lowden State"). Taft was 
also the teacher of many young pupils, some of whom blossomed into great artists 
themselves and one that would help him construct his biggest work of art ("Black 

Taft and his artist friends spent many summer nights standing on the bluffs of the 
colony, watching the natural beauty of the sun setting across the river valley ("Taft"). 
Taft once commented: 

Often we stood in the evening on this eminence, with folded arms, lost, in 
wonder at the beauty of the sunset and the valley. It came to me then that 
the hour would come when Chicago wealth would take the place from us. 
as our fathers had taken it from the Indian. I felt resentment. In my mind 
I panned a figure, a suggestion of an Indian, vague in outline, as if 
modelled by erosion of the rocks. An Indian standing with arms folded 
looking away to the westward, forlorn but majestic. ("Taft") 
It was their love of the land that brought them to this country setting, the same setting that 
not too many years earlier was enjoyed by the native Sauk and Fox Indians. 

Taft, while on a European tour, imagined the idea of building an enduring statue 
("Building"). The statue was that of an Indian and it would eventually be placed on the 


spot where he and his friends overlooked the valley so many times before ("Taft"). Taft 
was quoted as saying: 

Every evening as the shadows turn blue we walk here to the bluff. We 
have always stopped at this point to rest and enjoy the view. As we stand 
here we involuntarily fold our arms and take the pose of my 
Indian... restful, reverent. It came over me that generations of men have 
done the same thing right here, and so the figure grew out of the attitude, 
as we stood and looked on these beautiful scenes. (Debnam) 
Upon his return from Europe, Taft, knowing that he lacked the skills to build such 
an object, summoned the help of former student John G. Prasuhn, a German descendent. 
Besides being a sculptor, he was also a capable civil engineer, and it would be those skills 
that would be needed to take Taft's grand idea and make it into reality. In 1 907, Taft put 
Prasuhn in charge of the entire project, which they completed some three years later 
(Debnam). Without Prasuhn's ingenuity and knowledge of cement, Taft's idea might 
have never been completed. 

It was Prasuhn's job to take a six-foot clay model of the statue and transform it to 
seven times its size ("J.G. Prasuhn"). Besides having to remedy all of the engineering 
problems, by the time the mold of the statue was ready for cement, he had to deal with 
abnormally low tempertures of an early winter ("268-Ton"). While the inclement 
weather refused to change, Prasuhn invented a way to pour cement in freezing weather, 
something that up to that time had yet to be done ("268-Ton"). Pouring began on 
December 20, 1910, in sub zero temperatures and continued around the clock for ten 
straight days by two fourteen-men shifts ("268-Ton"). It would eventually take sixty-five 


thousand gallons of river water, which was mixed with cement contributed by the 
Portland Cement Company (Debnam; "State Assures"). Prasuhn and his men would 
leave the statue after the pouring was finished and would not return until spring to see if 
they had actually beat Mother Nature ("Black Hawk"). 

When spring came, Taft and Prasuhn broke the molds on the statue and found that 
it was perfect ("Black Hawk"). Together they had created a 268-ton stone colossal statue 
that would be marveled by thousands in the years to come ("Inside"). The March, 1911, 
issue of Popular Mechanics said the statue, "is not only a work of art, but an example of 
mechanical genius and engineering skill" ("State"). Taft would also give credit to 
Prasuhn by saying: 

(Prasuhn) fairly lived with the great Indian for a period of two years, until 
completed in its present shape, making the measurements and overcoming 
all obstacles in increasing the size from the miniature model given to him 
as a guide. ("Building") 

It was Lorado Taft's wild dream of building such an monument, but without John 
Prasuhn his dream would have been nothing more than just that. Not only did Taft have 
the idea of "The Eternal Indian," but he also bore most of the expense of the project 
("Indian"). It wasn't until late in the project that he needed some financial assistance 
(Jewett). He received a private donation from friend Frank O. Lowden, but Lowden 
insisted that the donation be kept a secret from the public (Jewett). 

It was July 1, 1911 and people were gathered at the site of Taft's creation for a 
dedication ceremony ("Indian"). Taft was presenting his Indian to The State of Illinois. 
It was ironic that on that dav it was humid and in the 90s, so unlike the bitter eold when 


the Indian was born ("Weather 1 '). Also, that in a time when you could pick up a paper 
and read about men robbing trains, that one man would give, at his own expense, a piece 
of art that later generations could appreciate ("Bandits"). 

Thirty-four years after his dedication to the people of Illinois, Black Hawk is still 
standing where his creators left him, high above the Rock River gazing across the valley 
below. He has become more and more popular as he grows older, attracting thousands 
upon thousands of visitors yearly ("Inside"). Because of Black Hawk's popularity, the 
State of Illinois bought the land that surrounds him and made it into Lowden State Park in 
1945 ("Lowden Park"). Four years before the park was built, John Prasuhn came back to 
take a look at Black Hawk because rumor had it that he was crumbling away on the 
inside (Debnam). Prasuhn soon dispelled this rumor by saying that Black Hawk was, 
"just as sound as the day I left it 3 1 years ago" (Debnam). Prasuhn worked for months 
though, patching up damage from many lightning strikes ("Black Hawk"). At this time 
there was contemplation whether or not to put lightning rods on Black Hawk's head and 
cover them up with feathers (Debnam). To this day Black Hawk stands as he has from 
his origin, featherless. 

In 1947, Oregon and Byron, Illinois businessmen pitched in together and added 
spotlights for night illumination ("Blackhawk"). When they were first installed they 
were manually turned on and off and were run from dusk to 1 1pm ("Blackhawk"). 
Today, they are automatically turned on and off and run through the entire night. "Seeing 
Black Hawk at night time brings on a new appreciation for the statue. It is very proud 
and majestic looking in daylight, but the night just seems to enhance that feeling." says 
Jimmie Meyers (Meyers). 


At some point in time after the lights were put in, a black metal fence was put up 
around the circumference of the base of the statue. Heavy metal doors, that lay 
horizontally, were also added to the stairway that runs down into the center silo section of 
the statue. This was done to help keep moisture from running into the stairway and to 
keep people out of the center section of the statue. Today the doors are locked and are 
opened for special reasons only, such as for a tour of school children ("Inside"). 

One myth about the statue is that there is a spiral staircase inside that leads to the 
top, but this not true. When the statue was built, a knotted rope ladder ascended to the 
top, but it does not exist today. One other bit of information unknown to onlookers is 
that there is a window in the statue that is located right above the folds of the arms. At 
one time the window was functional by the use of cables, but it seems time and the 
elements have taken that away from Black Hawk ("Inside 11 ). Today, tourists are confined 
to the beauty of the exterior; the interior and its secrets are only remembered by 
generations past. 

Black Hawk has stood for the past 90 years overlooking his valley below, as the 
native Indians and white men once did before him. Unlike the things around him. he has 
weathered the worst of storms, the extreme heat of summers, and the bitter cold of 
winters, but remains there for all men to enjoy. So, while his environment has changed, 
the structure and reason for being has withstood the test of time and nature. If one could 
have stood with Taft on those summer evenings, they might be able to understand why he 
chose to put an Indian back on his native land forever. Instead, we will just be able to 
admire the beauty and greatness of "The Eternal Indian" and remember that the people he 
symbolizes stood there first. 


Works Cited 

"268-Ton Blackhawk Statue Was Poured in Bitter Cold." Rockfordiana Files. 

"Bandits Loot And Escape." Rockford Register Gazette . July 1, 1911. 

"Black Hawk Statue Now 34 Years Old, Is Undergoing Repair Work." Rockford 
Register Star . September 16, 1945. 

"Blackhawk Statue Is Illuminated." Rockford Register Star. November 27, 1947. 

"Building Black Hawk Statue Labor of Love for Taft." Rockford Register Gazette . 
June 13, 1959. 

Debnam, Helen. "Blackhawk turns 75." Rockford Register Star . June 28, 1986: Page 

"The Eternal Indian." The Rockfordiana Files. 

"Indian Statue Unveiled." Rockford Register Gazette . July 1, 1911. 

"Inside Black Hawk." Rockford Register Star . October 30, 1971. 

Jewett, Harvey. "State Assures Long Vigil for Old Blackhawk." Rockford Register 
Republic . May 1, 1944. 

"J.G. Prasuhn, Sculptor Dies." Rockford Register Star . August 12, 1947. 

"Lowden Park Site Acquired." Rockford Register Republic . January 3, 1945. 

Lowden State Park . Illinois Department of Natural Resources. June, 1996. 

Meyers, Jimmie. Personal Interview. November 14, 2000. 

"Taft Statue At Oregon Not Of Black Hawk." Rockford Register Star . 
July 29, 1924. 

"Towering Statue Greets Motorists." Rockford Register Star . June 30, 1963. 

"The Weather." Rockford Register Gazette . July 1 , 1911. 

Booker Washington Center: 

* Enduring The Test Of Time * 


Jeanette Shelton-Kahley 

English IQi NDF2 
Rock Valley College 

Shelton-Kahley 1 

Jeanette Shelton-Kahley 
English 101 NDF2 
30 November 2000 

Booker Washington Center: 
Enduring The Test Of Time 

In 1996 Booker Washington Center ( BWC ) celebrated its 
eightieth anniversary, eighty (80) years of community service 
to Rockford's southwest side. Claudia Owens, President of the 
Board for BWC at that time said, "You can't be an African 
American in this community and not know of the center's 
dedication and rich history" ("it's a black-tie . . ."). For 
most people that grew up in Rockford, 30 years ago, this may 
be true, but today there are many African Americans who have 
moved to the city since then, or have left the southwest side 
of town and have children 25 years old and younger who have 
never heard of, or know little about, the center. 

Why is this a concern? Because through the years Booker 
has won victories, survived afflictions, and dared to dream 
colossal dreams that make it a place that all people, not just 
the African Americans of this community, should not only "know 
of," but also be a part of . 

Shel ton-Kahley 2 

In 1914, World War 1 started in Europe. President Wilson 
tried to keep the U.S. out of the war, but troops were being 
trained nevertheless. "Around 400,000 African Americans served 
in the armed forces." As they had at home, these troops over 
seas faced discrimination, but not from their European allies; 
No, it was from the white American soldiers. "At first the 
army refused to take black draftees," but pressure from the 
group made them eventually create two African American combat 
divisions (Gracis 687). 

Six hundred African American were commissioned as officers 
through a black officers' training camp. These soldiers made 
up more than ten percent of the fighting troops (Funk 1718). 
The U.S. went to war in 1917 and one of the 16 national army 
training camps in this country was here in Rockford at Camp 
Grant . 

Camp Grant was considered one of the finest camps in the 
country. It had 1,100 buildings that included barracks, 
officer's quarters, a recreation building, a theater, and various 
other buildings ("Camp Grant Comes . . ."). Some of the black 
officers trained to lead troops were sent to Camp Grant, but 
"The Rockford Chamber of Commerce asked the Community to assist 
in finding housing for 60 Negro officers and their families 
who would soon be arriving to take over staff positions at Camp 
Grant. The officers were part of 6,000 Negro troops who would 

Shelton-Kahley 3 

be stationed at the camp" (Chapman 28). 

Side Note: Newspaper articles concerning blacks soldiers 
at Camp Grant can be found in the Rockfordiana files for BWC 
and African Americans in Rockford. However, it is ironic that 
even today, there is no mention of black soldiers in the Camp 
Grant Rockfordiana files. 

The black soldiers in Rockford needed a place to socialize. 
A club was developed under the War Camp Community Service Program 
in 1916. Its location was 218 S. Main Street and known as the 
Colored Soldiers' Club. Oscar Blackwell, director in 1973, 
remembers that location. "it was in the block the Amcore Bank 
is now, upstairs of the Western Union Station." 

An African American doctor, Dr. Richard Grant, who was 
doing post-graduate work in Chicago, heard about the program 
and applied to the War Camp Community Service to serve as 
director. When he completed his courses, he, his wife Lelia 
(a nurse), and family were immediately sent to Rockford, but 
when they arrived they could not find a place to live. They 
stayed with the minister of Allen Chapel Church for a while 
( Chapman 31). 

The Colored Soldiers' Club entertained about 300 soldiers 
each week with musical programs, dances, refreshments, and the 
like. By 1919, the war ended and the club was no longer needed. 
Dr. Grant, respected for his work to save lives during the Flu 

Shelton-Kahley 4 

Epidemic of 1918, was asked to stay in Rockford and set-up 
practice (Chapman 32). 


The advisory committee to the club realized the black 
community in Rockford needed a center and the premises was turned 
over to them. This was around the time of the Great Migration, 
when there were more black people moving to the North. Many 
settled in Rockford and did not have a lot of choices as to 
where to go for entertainment. Many times, they only had their 
churches or each other's homes to go to for socialization. 
"That's true, there were certain places in Rockford where blacks 
weren't welcome," recalls Jeanette Bailey-Murray Sr., "Signs 
weren't posted, you just knew through word of mouth where not 
to go." 

In other areas across America there was also racial tension. 
Resentment between blacks and whites over housing, job 
competition, and segregation exploded during the summer of 1919 
in 25 cities around the country, even as close as Chicago. 
Blacks everywhere felt like second-class citizens (Garcis 698). 
Those feelings were shared by many blacks in Rockford, but they 
seemed to be less prone to riots and violence as a solution 
to the problem. 

The new social center was named Booker T. Washington Center, 
after the African America man who rose from slavery to be the 

Shelton-Kahley 5 

first president of Tuskegee Institute. His then recent death 
in 1915 may have been an influence in choosing that name. Booker 
soon became "the place to go for colors in Rockford." Club 
organizations with constructive programs began to develop, making 
Booker an "important factor in the promotion of the civic welfare 
of the city" ("Social Center Names . . ."). 

When Lola Robinson became director in 1926 (there were 
two directors before her) "for the next 17 years she would 
develop educational, recreational and cultural programs for 
every age and interest group in the Negro community." Mrs. 
Robinson, whose father was black and mother was German, was 
a gifted musician and studied at Wayland Academy in her hometown 
of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin (Chapman 49-50). She was also the 
only paid employee at the center for a long while. 

Mrs. Bailey-Murray remembers her well. "She was nice to 
me, and knew my parents well, but she could be critical though 
if things weren't right for the center." When asked about Mrs. 
Robinson's accomplishments at the center, Mrs. Bailey-Murray 
said, "By being a light skinned black woman, she was able to 
get more done for Booker from the white community." Mr. 
Blackwell, who has fond memories of Booker, had an uncle who 
was one of the first presidents of the board of directors, Arthur 
Taylor. Mr. Blackwell went to nursery school there back in 
the 1940s. He also remembers Mrs. Robinson, "She was meticulous 
and passionate about the center; a very kind woman." 

Shelton-Kahley 6 

The Rockford Community was supportive of the v/ork done 
at the Center. Some major support came from the local YWCA, 
Rockford College, and Roosevelt Middle School. The "Y" supported 
the center by starting a girls reserve at BWC and also allov/ed 
them to use their gym and pool for girls' sports activities. 
Rockford College sent students to help teach crafts and piano. 
Roosevelt teachers also volunteered their time by teaching 
classes. Born and raised in Rockford, Mrs. Bailey-Murray took 
part in many of Booker's activities. "I was a troop leader 
in the girl's reserve and took tap and piano lessons. Back 
then, it was all-free" She recalls. 

In January of 1936, the "old Kent school" closed, even 
though the public opposed its closing. The Rockford Board of 
Education loaned the building to Booker rent-free that December. 
The bigger building allowed them to serve more people and expand 
programs . 


Kent School started as "a framed" building in 1858. The 
land started out as the property of Germanicus Kent, one of 
the founders of Rockford. Kent also brought the first black 
person, Lewis Lemon, to this city. A school on the west side 
of town, Mulberry Street, was recently named after Lemon. Kent 
later sold the land to Selden Church, a clerk of the Winnebago 
County Commissioners' Court, his wife Mary, and Thomas and 

Shelton-Kahley 7 

Elizabeth Robertson. The tv/o couples eventually sold the land 
to the city at the cost of $1,000 in 1851. The city purchased 
two more lots near that property and give the land to the school 
board. When it was realized that more rooms were needed for 
the school, the framed building was replaced with a bigger stone 
one. Kent School served as an elementary school for all children 
on the southwest side. As with all Rockford schools, it was 

Another interesting side note is the third principal for 
Kent school was Prof. O.F. Barbour, in 1866. He came "to 
Rockford from Ohio seven years before to engage in the dry goods 
business". . . ." "He retained the post [as principal] for 
nearly half a century." Almost fifty yearsl That is a long 
time to be principal for one school. An elementary school on 
the southwest side of town, between Clover and Rose Streets, 
is named for him (Rockford Educational . . .). 


Booker had a variety of programs and clubs for adults 
and children that met on a regular basis. Some classes taught 
there were Bible study, knitting, singing, violin, and tap. 
Some activities for boys were the Boy Scouts and Friendly 
Indians. The boys were also allowed to use Ellis Elementary 
School's gym for their basketball teams. Booker had other 
programs for adults as well. A nursery school staffed by '..?.'•. 

Shelton-Kahley 8 

workers was developed to aid working parents, employment was 
found for people unemployed, food and clothes provided for the 
needy and rooms for people new to the Rockford area. They also 
allowed many organizations and clubs to use the center for a 
meeting place and to host holiday parties. 

At that time, the center served about 1,200 "colored" people 
in its programs. They had their own board of directors, and 
an advisory committee consulted with them periodically (Dr. 
Connolly. . . . ) . 


In 1933 BWC was recognized in the Rockford Morning Star 
newspaper by Assistant States Attorney, Fred Kullberg, as being 
a major factor in the "small amount of delinquency among Negro 
children in the city." Kullberg said, "Colored young people 
here have Booker Washington Center as an energy outlet for their 
spare time. I'm convinced the center occupies a very useful 
place in the community" (Reporter). 

That same year, the board of education decided to sell 
or demolish (by WPA workers) Kent School, as part of a campaign 
to reduce the school system's unused property holdings. 

St. Mary's Society, a Catholic Group, offered to buy 
the building for $7,500. Booker and its supporters voiced strong 
opposition. Many who opposed the sell were local attorneys, 
ministers, welfare workers, member of the Park District board, 

Shelton-Kahley 9 

and many others. A petition was sent to the board of education 
not to sell to St. Mary's for two reasons. First, the center 
served a good purpose in the black community, and second, the 
original deed for the school property had a clause in it 
directing that it be used by the community for educational 
purposes only. If the building was sold for any other purpose 
the money would go to the heirs of the original donors, not 
the school board. St. Mary's only wanted the school if they 
also could secure a liquor license ("$7,500 Bid For . . ."). 

Proof that the center was really making a difference in 
the black community was demonstrated when Lola Robinson reported 
to the Rockford Registered Republic newspapers that the total 
attendance for Booker in 1940 was 40,000 black people. This 
meant "an average of 30 visits each for every Negro man, woman 
and child in the city during last year." ("Negro Center . . 

The battle over keeping the building went to court. The 
attorney for the school board was Charles Davis, and fcr Booker, 
David Connolly. At first, in June of 1939 the Circuit Judge, 
Arthur Fisher ruled that the board could not sell the school, 
because of the clause stated earlier ("Court . . ."). The case, 
however, went to the Illinois Supreme Court and was overturned. 
The district could sell the building and use the proceeds. 
Davis argued that the property for Kent School was held "by 
the city in a general charital trust for school purposes, and 

Shelton-Kahley 10 

that now with the use of the trust having expired, the property 
could be sold" ( "Supreme Court . . . " ) . 

Booker put in a request for $11,000 to purchase their own 
facilities through a $74,400 "aggregate quota" brought together 
by five agencies to the Rockf ord Community Fund ( "Negro Center 
. . ."). Efforts were also made by the community to raise funds 
This may have been hard on all involved, because these were 
depression years. Barney Thompson of the Rockford Register 
Republic newspaper "took up the cause in his "Column Left," 
and again Rockford aldermen were flooded with telephone calls 
and letters urging them to protest the sale and allow Booker 
to remain." Because of the public outcry, St. Mary's withdrew 
their offer to buy the school, but renewed it when the school 
board put Kent School up for public auction on May 5, 1942 
(Chapman 80) . 

David Connolly, Booker's attorney, and Bill Hockstad, 
chairman of the agency sponsoring Booker called the Community 
Chest, decided they needed to raise more money to try and buy 
the school property. They asked every one they could, then 
asked again for backers on a loan if needed (Chapman 80). 

At the auction, the bidding was competitive by St. Mary's 
and three other agencies, but Booker out bid and purchased Kent 
School for $10,500. St. Mary's last bid was $10,300. Gifts 
towards the purchase by the community were $6,000. A mortgage 
was secured from Illinois National Bank for $4,500. A Booker 

Shelton-Kahley 1 1 

Washington Center Building corporation was set-up to claim the 
property. "Funds to pay the rent came from the Community Chest, 
and the rent paid off the mortgage." They celebrated with an 
open house dedication (Chapman 81). 

Now the center was safe and able to continue helping the 
community, as well as assisting the black soldiers once again, 
this time due to World War Two. The mortgage was paid by 12-6-4. 
("Center Will . . ."). 

Booker's newest project that year was the Sorelle Library. 
The library was an interracial project started by the Sorelle 
Club to provide information concerning the history and 
achievements of the Negro to help understand this racial group. 
Several organizations donated books by, or about Negroes to 
the library collection ("Sorelle Library . . ."). 


Booker has gone through many changes since then, not only 
in physical structure, but also in out-reach and focus. Many 
of the changes dealt with the growing need to update its 
100-year-old building, while others dealt with funding and 
the complex needs of blacks in America. Through the years, 
from the 1940s, World War Two, through the 1960s, Martin Luther 
King's death, and up till the present, America has been able 
to look at segregation for what it is. Blacks in Rockford were 
starting to voice their opinions about where they could live 

Shelton-Kahley 12 

and send their children to school. They even started a weekly 
journal called The Crusader to give the black community a voice 
and to keep up with activities (Chapman 106 . . .). Hopefully, 
Booker too would change with the times. 

Renovations began with a gym. By 1947, funds were being 
raised among the members of Booker to add a gymnasium to the 
south side of the facility. This was a much needed addition, 
because Booker, at that time, was using the gymnasiums at the 
YWCA and Ellis School for their successful boys and girls 
basketball programs. There was a second city-wide campaign 
in 1949. At the time of the dedication in 1951, the gym, which 
cost $37,000 to build, still needed $2,000 to match building 
cost and more funds to pay for bleachers and a shower system. 
They had hoped to put a bowling alley in the basement ("Dedicate 
New . . ."). 

In 1968, Booker again was adding to its facility. The 
director at that time was McKinley (Deacon) Davis. Ke appeared 
to be a great advocate for the center. Funds were being raised 
to build a physical fitness room, game room, showers, etc. 
The fund drive hoped to raise $152,000. The Kiwanis Club gave 
$23,000 to help with the addition. They were hoping that $20,000 
would go to the "gymnastics plant." "In this room they hoped 
to hold program of boxing, wrestling, gymnastics and tumbling 
which will be sponsored by the Rockford Police Athletic League 
and supervised by off-duty police and deputies" ( "Kiwanian 

Shelton-Kahley 1 3 

Pledge . . ."). Many of those plans did not materialize, but 
the building did get a 8,648 square foot addition, remodeling 
to the main building, which included putting in an area for 
dances in the gym, updating the kitchen, and showers, Mr. 
Blackwell recalls. 

Around 1973, renovations were planned once again for a 
huge expansion. The center was given a $556,000 grant from 
the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 
Neighborhood Facilities program. "This will transform the center 
into a new type of community organization," said Oscar Blackwell 
("Booker Center Gets . . ."). The hope was to make social 
service programs more available for the neighborhood on the 
southwest side. 

Funding for Booker at this time was changing. "High 
emphasis used to be on youth programs with the gymnasium, etc., 
but when the Community Chest changed to United Way for funding, 
the emphasis focused on things United Way wanted; from highly 
recreational to social service; [We] had to do both," said Mr. 
Blackwell . 

To receive the federal funds from HUD, the center needed 
a local contributor. Oscar Blackwell contacted Webbs Norman 
at the Rockford Park District to elicit help in getting local 
funding. The Park District came through with an agreement to 
contribute $200,000. "I have nothing but high regards for Webbs 
Norman and the people at the Park District" says Oscar Blackwell 

Shelton-Kahley 14 

as he recalls the events that lead up to securing the monies 
for that project. Mr. Blackwell himself was extremely 
instrumental in seeing that project get underway. He was only 
with Booker for six months, but his participation made a 
hugeimpact (Chapman 185). There were grand plans for the 
center's development, but the main projects that stemmed from 
that grant were: 

* They bought the surrounding land (took over the block) around 
Booker, buying out residents in the area. 

* Kent Street in front of Booker changed to a cul-de-sac. Booker 
still has the Kent Street address, even though that street is 

no longer in front of the center. 

* The Social Service Center was built. This building houses 
offices that Booker rents to the community. 

Two idea for occupants were: "This building," according 
to Geneva Anderson, the present director at Booker, "was meant 
to house small area businesses, but most of them either went 
under or couldn't afford the rent." Mr. Blackwell also recalls 
the potential of the Social Service Center as being "offices 
for community services, like ADC, Children & Family Services, 
an Adoption Agency ... to provide the general need of the 
community, where they don't have to leave the neighborhood to 
get services . " 


Shelton-Kahley 1 5 

There were many problems that plagued the center in the 
years to come. In 1976-77 it was reported that "dilapidated 
equipment, lack of adult involvement and vandalism was some 
of the things that threatened its existence" ("Crisis Threatens 
. . ."). Many of the directors, at that time, were under a 
lot of stress and could not seem to handle the workload. They 
either burned-out or were fired. There was in-fighting among 
the board members ("Center In Philosophical . . ."), and talk 
of demolishing the old section of Booker in 1977 for yet another 
renovation project, but that project soon stalled when a 
contractor bid $274,000 just to tear down the school ("Booker 
Center Bid . . . " ) . 

Things got even worse when, in December of 1980, two young 
boys, Tony and Sean Harris and their mother, Yvonne were walking 
past the center one evening and saw smoke coming through the 
roof. When the firemen arrived the fire was hard to locate 
and even more difficult to fight in the frigid cold weather. 
"Fire chief James Cragan arrived at the scene several minutes 
after the fire was reported and after an inspection of the 
situation, ordered water-soaked and chilled fire crews replaced. 
Four full crews were replaced with fresh men in dry clothing" 
before containing the blaze (Baker)." 

The fire took about 15 hours to control. The old Kent 
School was left gutted and the cause is still a mystery, even 
today. It was thought that faulty wiring was a possible cause, 

Shelton-Kahley 16 

but because of the mess from the fire, it was not confirmed . To 
add to the frustration of the situation, this section, Kent 
School, was not insured. The insurance was dropped in 1977 
and the newer 1968 addition , that was also damaged, was under 
insured . "I had to fight to keep the insurance paid when I 
was there," recalled Mr. Blackwell (director in 1973) "We hardly 
had enough money to pay the staff." 

Because of the fire, many out-reach programs, for the youth, 
like recreation and tutoring were in jeopardy. Booker faced 
a bleak future. After the fire "youth programs were shut down," 
said Mr. Blackwell, "Booker's basketball team was really good, 
winning tournaments. It was a real moneymaker too with the 
tickets, hotdog stands ..." For awhile the center was able 
to use the Christ the Carpenter Church across the street for 
some programs like its summer recreation day camp, but due to 
space, had to limit enrollment. 

In 1981, a survey was taken by Insight Inc. to get the 
community's feedback concerning Booker. The results found 
that there was criticism in regards to poor management of the 
center and the community's lack of awareness as to exactly what 
was offered there. However, they did honor Booker as a landmark 
in the black community and felt a need for its services. The 
center's new director, Ed Prince, saw the survey as a tool in 
future planning to meet the community's needs (Bland. "Survey 
Find". . .). 

Shelton-Kahley 17 


Soon the Center was able to use Washington Middle School, 
which was closed at the time, for several programs while waiting 
for the 1968 annex of Booker to be renovated. The cost forthe 
renovation was $239,000, and $200,000 came from the Community 
Development block grant. The rest came from donations and the 
insurance settlement from the fire. The annex "was 
under-insured, because former director Franklin Walker decided 
not to increase coverage last summer in light of high utility 
cost" (Bland. "Center Works . . ."). 

The center struggled for the next two years. It had 
financial difficulties, and again needed a director. In 1983, 
Dr. Connie Goode, PH.D. took over as director. Dr. Goode, an 
educator, had served on Booker's board of directors for several 
years and was familiar with its problems and potential. Her 
consulting company had surveyed the community about Booker in 
1981. "Children will be the focus of Booker Washington," Dr. 
Goode stated in the newspapers, as she expressed what she thought 
would be a year's leave of absence from her job to help the 
struggling Booker get back on its feet. With her as director, 
the center had more of an education focus (Meyer). She resigned 
three years later in 1937. 

1933 was a busy year. Booker had its grand opening back 
at 524 Kent Street. By 1984 projects such as Bookerfest, a 

Shelton-Kahley 18 

"festival featuring music, food and entertainment," ( "Bookerfest 
'92 . . ."), and the Black History Quiz Bowl, a competition 
for high school students, began to submerge as efforts to bring 
Booker back to the community's attention and help raise funds 
(Washington Center Seeks . . .). 

Booker was beginning to, once again, meet the needs of 
adults and children alike, but again it began to struggle 
financially. In 1991, then director, Catherine Wells-Scott 
stated for the newspaper that, "People were talking about Booker 
Washington Center closing. The recession was taking its toll 
in reduced donations and cuts in state money. She had to lay 
off three workers and cut back on the center's programming" 
("Partners Aid BWC . . ."). 

Great news came, however, in 1992. The 1992-1993 funding 
from United Way increased by $15,000. Funds went from $108,531 
to $124,281. The center was also able to get donations from 
sponsors like the Kiwanis Club who gave $2,000 to support the 
Project Homework program. In this program children 3rd to 7th 
grade are tutored in homework areas ( "Operation Homework . . 
."). This program was so successful that a pilot was started 
at Fairgrounds Housing Project on the northwest side of Rockford 
( "Washington Center Seeks . . . ) . 

Additional donations came from many other organizations. 
Among them were a $12,000 donation from Rockford Township to 
support a summer computer program and a grant for $30,000 from 

Shelton-Kahley 19 

the State Department of Children and Family Services to start 
the Family Success Project, a program that would recruit minority 
parents as foster care providers. Well-Scott said, "Booker's 
new emphasis on education and family intervention programs 
spurred the financial rebound" ("Partners Aid BWC . . ."). Other 
programs included the summer day camp, co-sponsored by the 
Rockford Park District, the senior citizen program, co-sponsored 
by Illinois Area Agency on Aging, and various sports teams 
( "Washington Center Seeks . . . " ) . 

By 1993, Booker again was under a new director, Geneva 
Anderson. Mrs. Anderson is a native of Rockford and had already 
been working for Booker as its Finance Operations Manager for 
four years ("Geneva Anderson New . . ."). She is still the 
director to date, and has continued the center's community and 
family focus. 

Also in the 1990s Booker was involved with adult education 
classes in cooperation with Rock Valley College. Some classes 
offered were GED, reading and practicing the manual for a 
driver's license, and seminars for seniors on employment 
opportunities ("Booker Program To . . ."). They also received 
money from UPS in 1997 to start a job training program ("UPS 
gives . . ."). Several organizations met, there at that time, 
including the NAACP. 

In 1996, the center received a grant for a van, with a 
wheel chair lift, that is being used for senior citizens. Booker 

Shelton-Kahley 20 

also started a Computers and Me program to teach preschool 
children how to use the computer. 


In an interview with Mrs. Anderson it was noted that, Booker 
is now opened six days a week, runs its own GED program, 
continues to work with NIU, doing the Upward Bound program 
(working with future college students), and has a Helping Our 
Teens (H.O.T) program. There Computers and Me program for 
preschoolers is only offered to children through day care 
centers. At present seven day care centers utilize this program. 

It continues most of its past ventures, but at this time 
does not have Rock Valley College classes, or the job training 
for youth 16 to 21 years-old taught with UPS funds. Booker 
combines some activities with the neighboring Tinker's Cottage 
for Halloween parties, educational projects, and tours during 
Bookerf est . 

The Social Service building, on the same property, is being 
rented from the center by the City of Rockf ord ' s Human Resource 
Department. Services offered there include information about 
Headstart, Energy and Community Service Programs. 

Mrs. Anderson admits space is tight at Booker, but is 
unaware of plans in the near future for expansion. They are, 
however, under construction for a new playground, and are 
planning new projects with two organizations. "We'll be working 

Shelton-Kahley 21 

with (CASS) Community Advocate Support Services, and (UPC) New 
Path Consortium," she stated, "CASS is an advocate group going 
into schools to help kids seek conflict resolution, tell them 
where programs are for tutoring, GED, and parenting classes. 
NPC works to improve computer programs, offer ways to help the 
community with getting on-line, E mail, and other ways to address 
the needs of the community because many don't have computers 
in their homes." 


In looking at Booker Washington Center through its past 
victories and tragedies, one can not help but to see the dream 
and potential that each person who worked there wanted for the 
southwest side of Rockford through this establishment. In one 
article it was summed up as follows: "One of our main plans 
is to make Booker the nucleus of the community it should be" 
("Washington Center Seeks . . .") 

This sentiment seemed to be shared by Oscar Blackwell as 
he expressed the passion he had for Booker 27 years ago when 
he spoke of the things the center could have been. "There was 
talk of an indoor /outdoor pool; we saw one at another facility. 
It could be done. We could have had a day care center, a Social 
Security office, credited courses from Rock Valley College 
NIU, Police and Fire offices to form a liaison between them 
and the community. Booker has to have competitive programs 

Shelton-Kahley 22 

if it wants to draw the community in." 

Those plans seem unrealistic, but looking through the 
Rockf ordiana files proved that many of those plans were shared 
with the Rockford community and were probably what inspired 
the center to stay strong throughout those turbulent years. 

Approach Booker today; its physical presence is not very 
impressive: the parking lot needs to be repaved, letters are 
falling off the building, and it could use a fresh coat of paint. 
Go inside; learn of its programs and aspirations for the future 
- with more public awareness, financial backing, and volunteer 
help, it could very well be the "nucleus" of the southwest side, 
not only today, but well passed the year 2016, its 100th 

Shelton-Kahley 23 

Works Cited 
Anderson, Geneva. Personal interview. 7 Nov. 2000 
"Ask Court To Approve Sale Of Kent School." Rockford Morning 

Star 12 Dec. 1938, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public 

Library . 
Bailey-Murray, Jeanette. Personal interview. 20 Oct. 2000 
Baker, Joe. "Booker Center Hit by Blaze." Rockford Register 

Star 20 Dec. 1980, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public 

Libraray . 
Blackwell, Oscar. Personal interview. 1 Nov. 2000 
Bland, Dorothy. "Center Works To End Space Bind." 16 July 1981, 

"Survey Finds Booker Center Still Wanted." 10 June 1981, 

Rockford Register Star Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public 

"Booker Building Bids High." Rockford Register Republic 

12 Apr. 1978, Rockfordiana File, Rockford Public Library. 
"Booker Center Gets $556,000 For Expansion." Rockford Register 

Star 27 Apr. 1973, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public 

Library . 
"Bookerfest '92 Celebrates Arts." Rockford Register Star 9 Aug. 

1992 Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Booker Program To Get More Classes." Rockford Register Star 

15 Nov. 1990, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Booker Washington Architects Check New Bidding Possibility." 

Rockford Register Republic 24 Mar. 1978, Rockfordiana 

Shelton-Kahley 24 

File, Rockford Public Library. 
"Camp Grant Comes To Rockford." Rockford Register Republic 23 

Sept. 1975, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Catholic Group Asks to Buy It For Clubrooms." Rockford Register 

Republic 19 July 1938, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public 

"Celebrating Booker." Rockford Register Star 26 Oct. 1996,3A, 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Center Expansion Efforts Launched." Rockford Register Republic 

25 Feb. 1977, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Center in Philosophical, Financial Crises." Rockford Morning 

Star 2 Feb. 1976, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public 

Library . 
"Center Will Burn Mortgage Tonight." Rockford Morning Star 6 

Dec. 1945, Rockfordiana File, Rockford Public Library. 
Chapman, Barbara. That Men Know So Little of Men . Rockford: 

Rockford Public Library, 1975. 
"Community Center Has Facelift." Rockford Register Republic 

13 Feb. 1967, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library 
"Community Center Plans Addition." Rockford Register Republic 

11 Aug. 1967, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Crisis Threatens Booker Washington Center." Rockford Register 

Republic 30 Jan. 1976, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public 

"Court Rules Vacated School Can't Be Sold." Rockford Register 

Shelton-Kahley 25 

Republic 16 June 1939, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford 

Public Library. 
"Dedicate New Center Gym Connolly Talks" Rockford Morning Star 

18 Nov. 1951, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Dr. Connolly to Head Washington Cter. Body." Rockford Register 

Republic 9 Mar. 1938, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public 

"Expansion of Booker Includes Whole Area." Rockford Register 

Star 3 Aug. 1973, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public 

"Finest Guard Camp In The Country." Rockford Morning Star 20 

Mar. 1938, Rockfordiana File, Rockford Public Library. 
"Fire Curtails Booker Center Programs: Recreation, Tutors' 

Programs Affected." Rockford Register Star 21 Dec. 1980, 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
Funk & Wagnails New Internationl Dictionary of the English 

Language: Comprehensive Edition . No State Given: J.G. 

Publishing Co., 1993 
Garcis, Jesus, Creating America: A history of the United States 

Illinois: McDougal Littell Evanston, 2001 
"Geneva Anderson New Booker Boss." Rockford Register Star 

23 Dec 1993, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
Gross, Ernie, The American Years A Chronology of United States 

History . New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999. 
"It's A Black-tie Affair At Booker." Rockford Register Star 

Shelton-Kahley 26 

25 Oct. 1996, Rockf ordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
Kindersley, Dorling. Chronicle of America From Prehistory to 

Today . New York: 1995. 
"Kiwanian Pledge $23,00 To Booker Washington." Rockford Morning 

Star 17 Apr. 1968, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public 

Meyer, Michele. "Connie Goode Director at Booker." Rockford 

Register Star 4 July 1983, Rockfordiana File, Rockford 

Public Library. 


Molyneaux, John. African American in Early Rockford, 1834 -1871 . 

Rockford: Rockford Public Library, 2000. 
"Negro Center Home Sought." Rockford Register Republic 14 May 

1941, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Partners Aid BWC Rebound." Rockford Register Star 16 July 

1992, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
Peterson, Eileen. "No Cause For Fire Found Yet." Rockford 

Register Star 24 Dec. 1980, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford 

Public Library. 
Purnell, Florestine. "Booker Rings Own School Bell." Rockford 

Register Star 15 Sept. 1984, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford 

Public Library. 
"Operation Homework To Begin." Rockford Register Star 19 Mar. 

1992, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
Reporter, Girl. "Booker Washington Social Center Helps Curb 

Juvenile Delinquency." Rockford Morning Star 15 May 193S 

Shelton-Kahley 27 

Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
"Rockford Educational System Among Finest In State." 20 May 

1934, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 
Schafer, Tom. "Booker Center Bid Exceeds Estimated Cost." 

No Date, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 

"$7,500 Bid For Unused School Sale Opposed." Rockford Morning 

Star 24 Apr. 1938, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public 

"Social Center Names Officers For Fiscal Year." Rockford Morning 

Star 3 Jan. 1929, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public 

"Sorelle Library Plans Observance." Rockford Morning Star 22 

Sept. 1946, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Libaray. 
"Supreme Court Decides Board Can Sell School." Rockford Morning 

Star 17 Dec. 1939, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public 
Library . 
"Washington Center Seeks New Involvement." Rockford Register 

Star 24 July 1984, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public 

Library . 
"UPS Gives $25,000 to Center for Job Training." Rockford Register 

Star 6 Dec. 1997, Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public 


Left to Right: Mollie Williamson. Samuel Revells, 
Aladge Bolton Robinson, Eh Williamson, 

Richard S. Grant, M.D. club director. 

Alice Ferguson Vedder, Elizabeth Grant. 

Emma Revells, Lelia McKline Grant. 

_ 1919 

Founded in 1917 
moved to present site 
(formerly Ker- S 
in I! 



^"^ellaia^ogrs^rvlng 355. membW / ' / 


Tho new $37,000 .addition to Booker Washington center, 5','4 Kent si., will be dedicated Sunday 
afternoon. Fund raising for the 80 by 69-foot gym bej;an in 1947. (Register-Republic photo). 

Bitter cold, ice 
hamper firemen 

ifighters pour water into one of the oldest building. A large portion of the building's interior was gutted 
f3ooker T. Washington Center, 512 Kent St., by the fire, and firefighters were still on the scene early today 
lifter a smoky fire broke out in lower levels of the (Don Holt photo) 

_j| 4 '. i'r-*f m\sm •• , 

wwmm. ■ i- 

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Washington Communi So ' S ? ICe ' offerin 9 * 

^used Lter from f"e ?Do n Ho. SSg ura Sa * Urd ^ ™^- 

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Human Services Department 
A Community Action Agency 

Serving Winnebago & Boone Counties 
1005 South Court Street, Rockford, Illinois 61102 

Services we provide 

Community Services - (815) 987-5685, FAX: 987-5762 

Jennifer Jaeger, Community Services Director 

♦ Advocacy/Outreach ♦ Common Project 

♦ Community Garden ♦ Housing Assistance 

♦ Information & Referral ♦ Scholarship Program 

♦ Linkages & Service Coordination ♦ Summer Food 

♦ Neighborhood Capacity Building 

Energy Services - (815) 987-5711, FAX: 987-4980 

Mark Bixby, Energy Director 

♦ Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) ♦ Lead Paint Mitigation 

♦ Weatherization 

Head Start Services - (815) 987-5480, FAX: 987-8279 

George Davis, Head Start Director 

♦ Classroom/Home Based Pre-School ♦ Extended Year Services 

♦ Family Social Services ♦ Health/Nutrition 

♦ Special Needs Services ♦ Transportation 

♦ Parent/Family Education & Development 

Henrietta Site - (815) 987-5481, FAX: 987-5698 

200 North Johnston Street 

North Main Site - (815) 967-6715, FAX: 969-6569 

2909 North Main Street 

Orton Keyes Site - (815) 969-6565, FAX: 961-3288 

653 Ranger Street 

Administration - (815) 987-5782, FAX: 987-5762 

Granada Williams, Executive Director 
Amy Graham, Administrative Coordinator 
Charles Freutel, Fiscal Officer 

tiiiiiF '"'iifHiiiiHF md 

iiiiiiimi I iiiiiiiiiii 



. j 

J j 


John Linley 

December 14, 2000 

Rock Valley College 

John Linley Linley- 


English 101 

Camp Grant 

Camp Grant, which is named in honor of President Ulysses S. Grant, is rich with 
local and world history. The United States had just entered World War One on April 6, 
1917 and as one Rockford Register writer put it "Rockford was just coming out of the 
horse and buggy stage" when Rockford was chosen to become one of sixteen places in 
the States that the government was going to establish a large national army training camp 
(Camp Grant Comes... ). On June 12, 1917, Rockford was awarded the national 
cantonment that was to train soldiers for WWI (History). 

The army determined a large Midwest training camp was needed for the "vast 
horde of men who were soon to leave their homes and their work to join the colors and 
fight for their country" (Camp Grant's Colorful... ). 

The town opened its arms to the camp because they thought it would be good for 
the local economy. It was estimated that $1,000,000 a month would be brought into the 
community. As soon as the people found out, $100,000 was raised for improvements to 
the town. The locals even had a saying: "Fight or Give" (Camp Grant's Colorful... ). 

In early June 1917, Major D. H. Sawyer was ordered to Camp Grant as the 
construction quartermaster (Camp Grant Has Played... ). On July 2, the First Illinois 
Army Engineers arrived to begin construction, followed by thousands of carpenters 

By July 7, fifty buildings were already completed (Camp Grant's Colorful ) 
Two months after that, 1,100 buildings had been built (Camp Grant Comes... ). There 
were two-story barracks that could hold 250 men each, officer's quarters, mess halls, a 

Linley - 2 

base hospital, theater, stables, corals, and many other recreational buildings (Camp Grant 
Comes... ). From July to November they were all ready to house 41,160 men ( History j. 
Fifty thousand men were stationed there by July of 191 8 (Camp Grant Comes... ). 

Camp Grant in Rockford, IL 

This was not a cheap task, building this many buildings within a couple of 
months. The federal government paid $835,000 just for the land and $1 1,000,000 for the 
installation of utilities and construction (Camp Grant's Colorful... ). There were 300 
miles of electrical wires, 1000 tons of nails, and 48,000,000 feet of lumber used (Camp 
Grant Comes... ). 

During WWI and WWII, the camp processed and trained new recruits, and was an 
infantry replacement camp, medical training hospital, and even used to house German 
prisoners of war. In between the wars the land was used for the Illinois State National 
Guard and Civilian Conservation Corps (Short History... ). 

This was the first taste of the army for the new recruits. This was where they got 
their first army uniforms that Robert Gallagher described as, "stiff, ill fitting, and had a 
shine to them." He said, "They made us look like the new recruits we were We were 
very anxious to wash them so we did not look so new." They were issued two metal 
identification tat»s that were called, "dog tans", with some basic information on them. 

Linley - 3 

which included army identification number, blood type, and religion. The tags would be 
used if the soldiers where killed or wounded. They also got their first lessons on 
formations, saluting, and marching. 




View of soldiers from the 33 1 st Machine Gun Battalion performing exercises at 

Camp Grant 

This panorama was taken by the Duce & McClymonds Studio of Rockford, IL The 

date was November 1917, not long before these soldiers were sent off to fight in 

World War I. It measures 28" x 10" 

Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs - Panoramic Views of 

Army Units, Camps, and Related Industrial Sites (165-PP-69-9) 

In September of 191 8, tragedy struck the camp with the outbreak of the influenza 
epidemic (History). "The disease spread like wildfire, both in the camp and in the city" 
(Camp Grant Comes... ). At one point. Major General David McCoach Jr. declared 
Rockford "off limits" for personnel of Camp Grant unless members of families resided in 
the city (City Closed. . . ). By October there were 100 to 200 people dying a day at the 
camp (Camp Grant Comes... ). Mrs. Helena Seaberg, who was an army nurse stationed at 
Camp Grant at the time, said, " As we went out one door, they were bringing patients 
through the other door on stretchers" (Ex-Army Nurse... ). When the epidemic was over, 
it had killed between 1000 and 1400 soldiers and 323 Rockford citizens (Camp Grant 
Comes... ). It is estimated that 20 million people in the world died due to the flu epidemic 
between 1918 and 1919 (Nurse Tried to Save ...). 

I.inley - 4 

During WWII, the 2000 German prisoners of war (Short History.) actually did a 
lot of things for the community. They went to nearby Polo, Illinois and helped pick hemp 
for farmers and even helped build different buildings around town (Polo Hemp Mill). 

After WWII, in 1947, most of the buildings were torn down and 1 200 acres turned 
over to the Greater Rockford Airport and a few hundred to the Rockford Park District 
(Short History...). 

Today, all one finds is a lonely 4-by-l foot sign that says only "Camp Grant" 
standing next to the airport. The land the old rifle range was on is now Atwood Park. 
There are still a couple of old bunkers there standing watch over the river (Linley). There 
are groups that have challenge courses at the park today. Where groups of people can go 
to learn to work together using a variety of challenges that help develop team skills 
(Challenge Courses). Just like the teamwork that went into making Camp Grant in such a 
short amount of time with everyone working together as one. 

Camp Grant was definitely a massive group effort by many people to put together 
in such a short amount of time. The local community accepted this camp and even helped 
as much as possible in the building and the care of the US soldiers stationed there and. in 
return, Rockford's economy was good at this time in US history when so many other 
cities were struggling to get by. 

One million soldiers entered, trained, or were demobilized during times of war at 
Camp Grant (History). This would have made Ulysses S. Grant very proud that it was 
named in his honor. 

Linlev - 5 

Works Cited 

"Camp Grant's Colorful History Told." Rockford Register Star, 7 June 1976: Unknown 

Page Number. 
"Camp Grant Comes to Rockford." Rockford Register Star, 23 September 1975: 

Unknown Page Number. 
"Camp Grant Has Played Important Part In Rockford History." Star 20 February 1938: 

"Camp Grant Picture." Online Computer, 1 5/imagl 500.jpg . 
"Challenge Courses." Online Computer, . 
"City Closed to Soldiers." Star 5 August 1945: Unknown Page Number. 
"Drafted" Online Life story of Robert Gallagher, 1999: Chapter 2. 
Encyclopedia Britannica. Online Computer, , 

9 November 2000. 
"Ex-Army Nurse Recalls Flu Epidemic of 1918." Norma Roth. Rockford Register Star. 8 

August 1976:52. 
"Fact Sheet for Camp Grant Rifle Range, New Milford. IL." U.S. Army Corps of 

Engineers, Online Computer, factshts.cmpgrant.html . 
"History Rockford 1901-1941." Online Computer, chron2.htm. 

Linley - 6 

Linley, John. Interview (writer). 

Linley, Paul. Interview (During writer's childhood). 

"Nurse Tried to Save Lives, Lost Her Own." Rock ford Register Star. 1 5 January 1 998: 

"Polo Hemp Mill." Online Computer, . 
Salisbury, Rollin, Barrows, Harlan. " The Environment of Camp Grant ." Printed by the 

State of Illinois, 1918. 
"A Short History of Rockford, Illinois." John L. Molyneaux, Local History Department. 

Rockford Public Library, 1997. 
"331st Machine Gun Battalion." Online Computer, 

www, 1 65 gran, j pg . 

Clock Tower Resort, as a Landmark 


Carmen Ramirez 

12 December 2000 

Rock Valley College 

Carmen Ramirez 
English 101 SMF2 
12 December 2000 

Clock Tower Resort, more than a Landmark. 

W m lK 


For more than three decades, Clock Tower, has been a "Landmark", a 
meeting place, a full-service resort for professional business, romantic getaways 
and family escapes. 

Clock Tower has not always been named "Clock Tower". In 1966, East State 
Building Corporation, whose officers included Alvin and Max Liebling, both of 
Rockford, developed the 120-room motel and restaurant for $1.8 million on a 13- 
acre tract of land. The architects for the complex were Loebl, Schlossman, Bennett 

and Dart of Chicago. This was located on East State Street at the Northwest Toll- 
way entrance. The place was named "Henrici's Motor Inn and Restaurant. " 
(Henrici's 68). 

The complex had 120 guest rooms, dining rooms for more than 250 persons, 
an outdoor heated swimming pool, color television in all rooms, banquet halls to 
accommodate 400 people, a coffee shop as well as an auto service center. 

The new place was expected to be completed in late 1967, but it was in May 
1968 that "The Henrici's Motor Inn and Restaurant" officially opened its doors. 

Two years later, it was announced the sale of Henrici's Motor Inn Restaurant 
by East State Building Corporation to the Central National Realty Corp., owned by 
Atwood Interests. The Atwood family owned the property, but John R. Thompson 
Co. ran the convention center and restaurant. The purchase price was not 
disclosed. Seth G. Atwood said no further improvements were planned for the 
motel immediately, but "In the future there may be considerable 
expansion. "(Henrici's 69). 

In 1970, Henrici's began a 3-phase expansion, announced the year before. 
The new construction increased the motel-restaurant by 30%. The three phases 
were expected to be completed by 1972. The cost of the construction was not 

By April 1972, Henrici's Motor Inn and Restaurant had completed the 
construction of its new facilities. Other facilities under construction were a health 

club with sauna, a whirlpool, an indoor swimming pool, and "Henrici's Grand 
Ballroom," a hall with banquet seating capacity for 1,000 persons with a separate 
lobby. A dance floor was built into the center of the hall, which could also be 
divided into six smaller rooms with capacity for 150 to 200 persons, depending 
upon the type of meeting. A Time Museum, with unusual clocks collected over the 
world, would be the feature of the Henrici's Motor Inn. 

In the same year, Henrici's was sold to Green Giant, and it began the 
construction on a new wing in the section phase of expanding Henrici's Restaurant. 
The addition provided 50 more guestrooms, special bridal suites, a governor's 
suite, retail shops, and the Barbara A. Johnson Antiques shop. 

Seven years after the construction of "The Henrici's Motor Inn" the plan was 
announced to build a new theater that would show classic films and to erect a 
landmark, to distinguish what would become Rockford's Clock Tower. " It was 20- 
by-20 foot tower, 100 feet high, with large clocks on all four faces. The architects 
for the new tower were Larson & Darby. It was erected adjacent to the building of 
the Motor Inn Complex. The Clock Tower was completed in 1974. It was intended 
to give the complex a distinctive identity, as well as serving as a highly visible 
landmark on the tollway for the city of Rockford. "People from Chicago will be able 
to say, take the clock tower exit to Rockford, " a spokesman for the motor inn said. 
(Clock Tower 73). 


In addition to the striking tower, the complex was also the home of the Time 
Museum, a permanent exhibit of time keeping devices, collected by Seth G. Atwood. 
It was located on the premises of the Clock Tower Resort and Conference Center in 
the lower level. Some of the exhibitions were: a singing bird clock made in by 
Ingold in Paris in 1834, a Japanese "standing clock" with iron movement, a German 
stackfreed watch with hour striking and alarm, a bracket clock with tic-tac 
escapement made by Joseph Knibb, in London, a longcase regulator made by 
Samson Le Roy in Paris, an American wooden-movement shelf clocks from New 
England, and an English marine timekeeper (known as the "Mudge Green") made by 

Thomas Mudge in 1777 

Beside the Time Museum, it was the theater that offered an alternative, "because it 
was something Rockford didn't have" according to Henrici's assistant manager Jay 
B. Kitterman . Citizen Kane a 1941 film starring Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton 
was chosen to be the new theater's first showing "because it is considered the 
greatest American sound film, " Kitterman said. It was based on the life and career 
of William Randolph Hearst. 

"The theater's name, The Second Reel, Kitterman said, is based on the 
historic significance to films of "the second reel, " when movies stopped being 
short subjects and became a modern art form. " (Second) 

A month before, Gerald Ford took the oath as the 40 th president of the United 
States, and Rex A. Parker, 35, member of the State High School Basketball 
Champion Rockford West Warriors, resigned his position as coordinator of the 
Northern Illinois University Fieldhouse and Stadium facilities to become manager 
of Henrici's Motor Inn. " I'm looking forward to returning to Rockford. I see the new 
position as an additional challenge to further my own opportunities, " Parker said. 
The new position involved changing the name of "Henrici's Motor Inn. " (Ex-cager). 

By 1973, the hotel name changed from "Henrici's Motor Inn and Restaurant" 
to " Clock Tower Resort and Conference Center. " Some of the facilities remained 
the same. There were additions that expanded 69 rooms, exhibition halls, shops, 
the Time Museum, the theater, the Coffee House, and the 100-foot tall Clock Tower, 
which was intended to give the complex a distinctive identity. 


The next year, workers for C.A. Pierce Inc. in Rockford began installing the 
first two huge clock faces on the tower outside the hotel. The clock faces were ten 
feet in diameter, and the numbers one- foot tall. (Clock Tower 73). 

Almost nine years later, Pillsbury Co. took over the restaurant and 
Convention Center as part of a $165 millions deal with Green Giant, who had bought 
the restaurant and the Convention Center in 1972 from John R. Thompson Co. This 
company owned the restaurant and the Convention Center since the Henrici's 
opened the doors in 1967. Don Edlund remained as general manager of Henrici's. 

United Realty filed suit in Circuit Court against Green Giant after the 
transaction, alleging illegal reassigning its interest to Pillsbury. It also charged 
Green Giant was operating a competitive restaurant - The Hoffman House- at the 
Ramada Inn. (Fong 5-80). 

Two years later, the Atwood family consolidated operations of the Clock 
Tower when United Realty Corp., controlled by this family, bought Henrici's 
Restaurant and Convention Center from Pillsbury. A purchase price was not 
disclosed. United Realty operated both the lodging and food services in the motel 
complex. Previously, it had operated only the motel facilities. 

The expansion continued and The Atwoods launched a $4 million expansion, 
that included a 350-seat entertainment center, 54 more motel rooms (from 199 
rooms up to 253), doubled the size of The Time Museum, added two outdoor tennis 

courts and 4,000 square feet of meeting space. Rex Parker, the general manager 
who replaced Dick Marienthal, said about the expansion: " We are very 
excited about it. The project reflects our confidence in the Rockford market and the 
community as a whole. " (Fong 10-80). 

In order to complete the expansion, the gasoline station at 7965 E. State St. 
was bought and was demolished for parking and landscaping. 

By 1988, Rex A. Parker announced the new expansion. Sixty hotel rooms 
were added and 4,500 square feet of meeting space, taking the total number of hotel 
rooms to more than 300 and meeting space up too about 20,000 square feet. 

"The multimillion dollar expansion will begin as soon as weather permit, " 
said Parker. A more precise cost was unavailable because bids have not yet been 
taken for the work. About 60 employees will be added by the time construction is 
completed. " (Rubendall). 

Wendy Perks Fisher, Director of the Rockford Area Convention and Visitor's 
Bureau said, " I could not be more thrilled. Not only will this add needed bedrooms; 
it also adds some deluxe rooms for corporations and gives VIPs an elegant place to 
stay. It reflects well on the total economic climate of the community. We are bullish 
on the economy in Rockford and we want to be ready when the expansion of the 
overall Rockford activities comes about. To put a project of this type together, 
takes some planning and construction time. We want to be ready when Rockford 
takes off. We worked with a number of meeting planners and key users and 

solicited idea form them as to what they feel the Rockford market needs. In turn 
we will try to incorporate as many of these ideas as possible, " She added. 

With the new facility, the Clock Tower was able to accommodate both trade 
shows and banquets at the same time. The additional meeting space will fill a 
critical need, Fisher said. "There are a number of 100-and 200- people conventions 
we are turning away. We really get stuck now, because nobody else has meeting 
space. The Clock Tower expansion really competes with no one. " (Rubendall). 

By November of the following year, Clock Tower considered annexing to 
Cherry Valley, which did not levy property tax. The idea sparked criticism from the 
Rockford Area Chamber of Commerce and community and business leaders, who 
viewed the hotel as a symbol of Rockford. After reaching an agreement to annex to 
Cherry Valley, Rockford officials lobbied Clock Tower owners to annex to Rockford. 
Rockford won out. 

In 1992, renovation began of the huge clocks on the hotel tower, a project 
that included refurbishing the hands and synchronizing the movements. 

Two years later, The Clock Tower Resort announced two health-oriented 
moves that doubled the size of its fitness center and banned smoking in its open-air 
atrium-style restaurant. Frank LoDestro, food and beverage director said, "The 
trend is moving toward people not wanting to be in smoke-filled environments. We 
are just reacting on the needs of the people. We feel that it is going to be a positive 
marketing tool for us, because we feel there is a definite need of people to not go 

into a smoke-filled environment, eat and walk out with their clothes smelling of 
smoke. Clock Tower wanted to be the first restaurant in Rockford to make the 
change." Debby Massey, manager of Figs Cafe, said "A smoke-free environment 
would complement its healthy menu and hoped it would draw more health- 
conscious people. " (Frank) 

The same year the fitness Center doubled the size of the current one. Joyce 
Geeser, manager of the center, said, "With an area that's expanding out here, we 
know that our center is a little too small to take in a lot of new members because of 
space confinement. " 

In 1988, The Clock Tower Resort and Conference Center remodeled its all day 
dining restaurant and changed the name from the "Coffee House" to "The Pocket 
Watch Restaurant". The restaurant was decorated with artwork related to the 
pocket watch industry. The name was selected to continue the hotel's theme. 
(Clock Tower 98). 

By 1999, Regency Hotel Management of Sioux Falls, South Dakota bought the 
26-acre Clock Tower Resort from the Atwood family in May, for $11 million. Clock 
Tower Sold). 

The hotel chain replaced the longtime Clock Tower manager Mr. Parker for 
Don West who moved from the Regency-owned Hotel in Traverse city, Michigan. 
As part of the sale, the Atwoods closed the Time Museum and sold 1,551 
timepieces to the city of Chicago for $20 million, which put most of them on exhibit 

at the Museum of Science and Industry. The Atwoods auctioned the rest of the 
pieces through Sotheby's in New York, for $28.3 million. (Gary). 

Many people thought that The Clock Tower could lose some business without 
the museum. Seth Atwood, Bruce's father, had assembled one of the world's most 
diverse collection of time keeping devices. Housed in the resort's basement, the 
Time Museum became a feature in every tourist brochure on Rockford. 

"It illustrated the history of time measure in a way no one else had ever done 
before," said William Andrewes, a Harvard University curator who once oversaw the 
Atwood collection. "It is a great contribution to our civilization. " (Clock Tower 
Resort Sold). 

Regency did not plan any major changes for the Clock Tower. The name of 
the Hotel was to remain the same. As Greg Schjodt said, "We want that Clock Tower 
Resort and Conference Center title in there because that was part of the Rockford 
community. " 

Wendy Perks Fisher, president and CEO of the Rockford Area Convention & 
Visitors Bureau, said, "The Atwood family set the standard for how hotels should be 
operated and the Time Museum has been a model for other museums in the 
community. " "Although that the museum will be a loss to our community, their 
legacy is tremendous, " added Fisher. "It's the premier facility and we would look for 
it to continue to be the premier facility in our community. " 


Over the years, the Clock Tower housed prominent guests including Red 
Skelton, Gerald Ford and Bob Hope. As far as the community is concerned there 
has been a great loss also. Mrs. Giardini, first grade teacher at Lathrop School 
talked about a visit to the museum with about twenty students "I was overwhelmed 
with the beauty and the intricacy of all the clocks. " (Giardini) 

Through out the last three decades, Clock Tower Resort has been subject to 
personal, structural, and economic changes with the purpose of improving the 
services and remaining the best within the competitive market. Since buying the 
hotel, Regency has committed nearly $1.3 million in internal improvements, 
including turning two rooms into meeting rooms and plans to spend up to $700,000 
in 2001. But is it still Clock Tower the Rockford top hotel? 

When the complex opened its doors in 1967, it was surrounded for years by 
farmland, and today, after more than thirty years, sixteen other hotels operate 
within a mile of Clock Tower. "This is an extremely competitive business, and the 
field has gotten a lot more crowded, " West, general manager said. "The only way to 
remain competitive is continually reinvest in your property. " (Gary) 

Regency improvements made to the Clock Tower include $120,000 in 
renovations to the outdoor swimming pool, $80,000 for the new plumbing, replacing 
and elevator and remodeling the former Time Museum into office space. 

The initial efforts to improve the resort have impressed Rex Parker, the 
Resort's former general manager, and Wendy Perks Fisher. "The new owners have 

the resource and the sizable investment in the hotel that I don't think there is any 
way they will let it become dated, " said Parker. "The Clock Tower also is more 
aggressive in attracting lower-rate customer. " West said. (Gary). 

A local travel agent mention that she has noticed the difference in the Clock 
Tower's marketing efforts. "They've become more competitive in the market, " said 
Katherine Lindsay, account manager for Executive BTI Travel. They've been much 
more interested in packages or increased corporate business. " (Gary). 

Fisher said the improvements and new marketing strategies allayed fears that 
the Clock Tower would suffer, because it was no longer locally owned. 

"There is always a concern when you have a new owner that the commitment 
isn't the same as under the original owner. That certainly is not the case here. " 
said Fisher. Without reinvestment, hotels-no matter how popular- can become 
dated, West said. The best local example is the burned-out rubble in Rockton than 
once was the Wagon Wheel Resort. West has driven past the wagon Wheel several 

"To this day, we get calls asking if the Wagon Wheel is still open. It has 
tremendous name recognition. To a certain extent, we have that kind of name 
recognition. Every week I'll hear people say, "Let's meet at the Clock Tower. " It 
makes me smile because that's my hotel, but you can't rely on name recognition 
alone. " 


Through out the last three decades, Clock Tower has been a landmark for 
Rockford's visitors and the community, and will continue being a legacy for future 

Works Cited 

"Clock Tower to Be Built by Henrici's." R.R.S. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public 

Library. 3-7-73. 
Clock Tower Renames Restaurant." R.R.S. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 3- 

Clock Tower Resort Sold to Regency, Time Museum Closed." R.R.S. Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 3-13-99. 
"Ex-cager is New Manager at Henrici's." R.R.S. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 

Fong, Joe. "Atwood Interests Buy Henrici's Properties." R.R.S. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 5-21-80. 
Fong, Joe. "Expansion Begins at Clock Tower Resort." R.R.S. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 10-30-80. 
Gary, Alex "Clock Tower Sets the Local Standard." R.R.S. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 11-5-2000. 
Giardini, Nancy. Interview. 2 Nov. 2000 
Green, Lisa. "Making Room for 1,200." R.R.S. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 

"Henrici's Motel Officially Opens." R.R.S. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Publlic Library. 5-8- 

"Henrici's Begins 3 -Phase Expansion." R.R.S. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 6- 

"Henrici's Completes New Facilities." R.R.S. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 4- 

"Henrici's Starts New Wing." R.R.S. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 10-23-72. 
LoDestro, Frank. "A Healthy Approach." R.R.S. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 

"Motor Inn Construction Under Way." R.R.S. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 

Rubendall, Ben. "Clock Tower Resort to Add 60 Rooms, Meeting Space." R.R.S. 

Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 2-26-88. 
"Second Reel Makes Debut as Theater." R.R.S. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 




■ - -■• 

Wallingrord Centei l. li. III. i\ V & •;'■ 
G - j 

H - Eli Terry Room 
I- Gambrinus Room 


Clock £/owryi esort 

7801 E. State St. • P.O. Box 5285 • Rockford. Illinois 61125 




II 14 










Y Entrance to I-90 

East State St. 


(Flock ^/own\9ie$on 


S' • • 




Driving Time to the Clock lower 

O'Hare Airport 60 min. 

Chiago (downtown) 90 min. 

Milwaukee 90 min. 

Madison 75 min. 

Quad-Cities 120 min. 

Bloomington 135 min. 

Peoria 135 min. 

Dubuque 110 min. 

Springfield 180 min. 

For your convenience* there a 
hourly, non-stop coach service 
from the Oock Tavmr to (THare 
International Airport 

The Clock Tower is conveniently located in Rockford, Illinois — a 
short distance from many Midwestern cities. Rockford offers a wide 
variety of activities and attractions for everyone.The Clock Tower 
Resort is just minutes from: 

Magic Waters Theme Park 
Rock Cut State Park 
Metro Civic Centre 
Klehm Arboretum 
Ethnic Heritage Museum 
Rockford Art Museum 
Discovery Center 
Midway Village 
Burpee Museum of 
National History 
Riverview Icehouse 
Cross Country Skiing 
Year-round Ice Skating 


Horseback Riding 


Multiplex Theatre 

Rockford Speedway 

Indoor Sports Center 

Rockford Airport 

Coronado Theatre 

One of the Midwest's largest 

selection of antique shops 

Victorian Village 



7801 East State St., P.O. Box 5 
Rockford, IL 61125 

■ • 

Proscenium of the Coronado Theatre (Hurka) 

Greg Sonneson Sonneson - 1 



The CORONADO: Grab Your Seat 1 The Show Is About I o Start 
It all happened about 75 years ago. Four men, all executives of the Schumann 
Piano Co., sat down to discuss the future of their company. Due to the introduction of the 
radio, sales of pianos declined greatly. The business was not making much profit and 
they needed to decide on a different course of action. One of the decisions led to the 
birth of the ravishing Coronado Theatre (Mangas). 

An alternative idea discussed was building funeral parlors (Mangas). After all. 
most everyone will require the service of one. Thankfully, an idea of Mr. Willard Van 
Matre, Jr., President of the Schumann Piano Co. ("Clearing ..."; "North ..."), won over. 
Noticing the recent onslaught of vaudeville-style theatres around the country, he 
suggested building a movie-vaudeville theatre somewhere north of State Street and west 
of the Rock River. The 300 block of North Main was finally chosen to house this theatre 
(Mangas). Surprisingly, a few years earlier there was hardly any business in this area due 
to zoning laws that restricted the building of commercial businesses. But by the time the 
Coronado was being built the first three blocks of North Main were void of residences 

After the idea was agreed upon, the next step was to purchase the land where the 
theatre would be built. They decided to purchase three pieces of adjoining propert) for a 
grand total of nearly $140,000. A house occupied the first lot. owned by Franklin W 
Bauer. The second lot, owned by Dr. Edward H. Weld, held both a two-storj and semi- 
basement flat. The third lot, owned by Rosenquist and Schabacker Realtors, hosted a 
three-story apartment building. The sale of these pieces of property took place on April 

Greg Sonneson Sonneson - 2 



27 th , 1926. Shortly after, the tenants received notices to vacate by June 1 ' ("Clearing 
..."; "North ...")• 

Although the plans for the theatre were coming together, the piano company still 
needed another idea to keep from going bankrupt. They kept producing pianos but in a 
very limited capacity. They decided to craft some other products that could take 
advantage of their current resources. The three main products that came to be from this 
decision were a table, a lamp and a very interesting wooden horse. This interesting 
wooden horse was called the "Go-Pony. " It was designed in a way that the rider would 
have his feet on pegs on either side of the horse and would rock back and forth; that 
motion caused the horse to move across the ground. While operating the horse, the rider 
could shift his weight to one side or the other to create a turn (Mangas). 

Even though these products helped to keep the company in business a little 
longer, the Coronado Theatre is still around and the Schumann Piano Co. is long gone. 
The name and slogan for the theatre evolved from a contest conducted by The Rockford 
Reuister-Gazette on behalf of Great States Theater, Inc., and Rockford Enterprises. Inc. 
A $300 cash prize was split between Harry L. Wolfe, who suggested the name of 
"Coronado'" and Lawrence Sandwick, who suggested the slogan "Rockford*s Wonder 
Theater!" The name Coronado is based on a famous Spanish explorer. Francisco 
Vasquez De Coronado, who came to the new world in 1 535 (frank) A bust oi his head 
can be seen from the balcony. 

The excavation for this enduring theatre began in the summer o\ 1 926 ("Clearing 
..."; "North ..."). This was during the same time period that a second pedestrian and 
automobile bridue was beinu constructed I he bridue connected Peach Street on the west 

Greg Sonneson Sonneson - 3 



side of the Rock River, which ran just south of the site where the theatre was built, with 
Court Street on the east side of the river. After adjoining the two streets the name was 
changed to Jefferson Street. The only other non-commercial bridge that crossed the river 
at that time, located three streets south of the new bridge, was the State Street Bridge. 
This author states, "I'm not sure if the building of the bridge and the theatre in the same 
relative area was pure chance, but I'm sure it did not hurt business to the theatre once it 
was completed." 

The construction and finishing touches of the theatre ran until customers stepped 
foot in the new theatre on opening day, October 9 , 1927 ("The Coronado ..."). This 
was nearly two months past the intended opening day in August (Trank). Mr. Van Matre, 
Jr. had no intentions of giving up quality just to have the theatre open by August. A 
desire for quality work is why some of the most reputable craftspeople in the field of 
theatre design and construction were hired (Mangas). 

The architect, Mr. Fredric J. Klein, was noted as the designer of both the Rialto 
Theatre in Rockford and the Madison Theatre in Peoria ("Celebrating ..."). One of the 
amazing architectural feats, for its time, was the balcony, designed with no load-bearing 
poles beneath. Using statistics, engineers calculated the maximum load that could be 
produced with a full balcony of patrons with their winter coats. With these calculations. 
the engineers designed arch-shaped beams that spanned the width of the theatre. This 
allowed the balcony to flex up to four inches without collapsing (Mangas) 

The architectural feats were pretty amazing, but the plasterwork was astonishing 
Walter Scott Bell is the designer of all the plasterwork. Mr. Bell, who finished the best 
houses in Chicauo and New York, viewed the Coronado as the most beautiful job done 

Greg Sonneson Sonneson - 4 



under his direction during his many years as a theatre worker. Arthur Butner, the 
sculptor of most of the breathtaking plasterwork, studied his art in Italy and under some 
of the world's most famous teachers ("Plaster ..."). Almost every square inch of the 
theatre was covered in some type of plaster ornamentation. The most astounding 
plasterwork was in the main theatre. The final product became a spectacular 2500-seat 
movie-vaudeville theatre, 17 efficiency apartments and numerous storefronts ("Theater 


On opening day, patrons marveled at the splendor of one of the most beautiful 

atmospheric theatres in Illinois, if not the whole country. As they approached the theatre, 
the huge, towering "CORONADO" sign with all the flashing lights mesmerized the 
future audience. A patron could enter through either set of doors encompassing the ticket 
booth, there to welcome all theatergoers. A snack counter is centered behind the ticket 
booth. A glance at the walls revealed a great amount of ornate detailing and trimmings. 
Most of the trim work and detailing were in hues of gold, silver, brown, mauve and 
orange; these colors held true throughout the theatre. 

Looking straightforward from the entrance was an opening in the wall with a 
pillar dividing it. Walking through either side of the opening, one saw a long narrow 
room. The wall on the right contains four sets of doors that allow patrons to enter the 
main floor seating. The opening above disclosed a view of the mezzanine. To protect 
starry-eyed moviegoers from their demise, a cast iron railing with a wooden top enclosed 
the mezzanine. To the right was a gigantic domed topped mirror running from the floor 
to the ceiling and looking about 30 feet wide. 

Greg Sonneson Sonneson - 5 



On each end of the room were staircases that transported patrons up to the 
mezzanine or down to the restrooms. A person could walk to the staircase at the far end 
of the room - it would be on the left. Follow the staircase going up to the mezzanine. 
Once at the top, he turned to the right and walked a few steps. To the left was even a 
better view of the massive mirror. On each side of the mirror there were two sculptures 
of a very beautiful, nude woman. The two women bordered a huge, ornate chandelier 
that hung from an alcove in the ceiling. A person turning to the left noticed the 
symmetrical view; there was a couch centered against the wall, a door on either side of it 
and staircases on either side of the doors. Either set of stairs would be taken to enter the 
upper balcony. 

From the balcony one saw the beautiful main theatre area. This was where the 
most astounding plasterwork was visible. The proscenium surrounding the stage was 
ornamented with highly detailed trim work that presented many different textures. Just 
above the top of the proscenium was a bridge connecting the right side of the theatre with 
the left side. In the middle of the bridge was a sculpture of King Neptune, there to 
symbolize the sea. The two walls on either side of the proscenium were adorned by 
lifelike architecture of Spanish, Moorish. Italian and French cultures (Quirk "Case ..." 4 i 
These structures were actually three-dimensional; they were not attached to the wall 
behind them. These buildings, along with the bridge, created a scenario of multi- 
connected cultures (Mangas). 

In the middle of the buildings and proscenium was the main stage This. o\ 
course, was where the performance took place, although the theatre in itself made up a 
pretty good show on its own! Between the main stage and the front row of seating there 

Greg Sonneson Sonneson - 6 



was a large hole in the floor. This was known as the orchestra pit and was often used 
when there was a play or ballet. Just to the right of the orchestra pit there was a large 
white Barton pipe organ. The floor under the organ can be raised or lowered I he organ 
was detailed in all sorts of gold trim and two golden dragons on each side of the top On 
the walls, between the plaster houses and the proscenium, were large grills that covered 
the organ pipes. These grills also had dragons on them that corresponded to the dragons 
on the organ. The ceiling of the theatre was intentionally colored cobalt blue with more 
than 12,000 scattered tiny lights ("Coronado: Splendid ..."). These lights were actual 1\ 
placed in a precise location to simulate some of the constellations, such as the Big Dipper 
and Orion (Mangas 9A). At one time there was a special machine used to project the 
image of clouds on the ceiling to enhance the sky feeling. The houses, bridge, sky and 
stars were all put together to create an atmosphere. This was why the Coronado Theatre 
was referred to as an atmospheric theatre ("Case .. ." 4; "Coronado: Splendid . . . "). 

Although the theatre was originally budgeted to cost $700,000 ("Clearing ..."'; 
"Main . . . ") the final price doubled to $ 1 ,500,000 ("Coronado Opens ..."). This was a 
great deal of money for a theatre of that time period and for Rockford. a city of moderate 
size. Based on these facts alone it is of immense luck that it survived the Great 
Depression. The theatre stayed in the Van Matre estate after Willard Van Matre. Jr. 
passed away. It was not until Mrs. Van Matre passed away that the theatre was final l\ 
sold. The transfer of property to the Kerasotes firm became effective on Jul) 1 sl , 1970. 
The Kerasotes family operated many theatres all over the Midwest; including the now 
departed Belford indoor-outdoor theatre in Rockford ("Coronado Sold ..."). 

Greg Sonneson Sonneson - 7 



After all of the years and the change of ownership, the theatre remains almost 
identical to its original state in 1927. It is one of a few atmospheric theatres still in 
existence in the United States. Of the few that are left this is the only one that has 
survived the years in such exquisite condition (Smith "Coronado Could ..."; 
"Renovations ..."). Except for some minor touch-up work, the theatre still has the 
original paint, plasterwork, and trees ("Coronado Theater . . . "). The trees are quite 
interesting in themselves. They are real trees that are chemically treated to preserve 
them, so the leaves will not fall off. The trees, placed in the theatre when it originally 
opened, reside above the plaster houses (Mangas). 

Besides the touch-up work, a few physical changes were needed. Some of these 
changes involved replacement or reupholstering of seating and replacing the carpeting. 
These changes were made mainly due to wear and tear (Mangas). 

One of the non-physical changes involves a story with a bizarre twist. Marty 
Mangas states: "For quite some time after the Coronado opened, patrons were not 
allowed to eat popcorn in the theatre. Mr. Van Matre wanted to have an establishment 
that people could admire. Although there was a concession stand that would serve cand\ . 
the staff was required to unwrap each piece and place it on a dainty doily. At some point 
in the forties or fifties, a caramel candy store opened next to the State Theatre Patrons to 
the Coronado would stop by there beforehand and buy some popcorn to sneak in. Mr 
Van Matre decided he might as well just follow suit and start obtaining re\ enue ot his 
own, instead of fighting the masses. Seeing that Mr. Van Matre required the best ol 
everything, he had a member of his staff hunt down the finest popcorn to sell at the 
theatre. It came to be eventually that people would just stop in for popcorn when the) 

Greg Sonneson Sonneson - 8 



were passing by, even if they were not going to see a movie. "' One of the few other 
changes was in 1984, when the Kerasotes firm ended the theatre's 56-year stint as a 
commercial movie house in favor of booking more fine arts performances (DeDoncker; 

Even though the building has not changed much in its lifetime, it did have some- 
flaws that needed to be addressed. When it was first built, the building codes were not 
the same as they are today. Due to this fact, many of the amenities for people with 
disabilities were not present (Peterson "Treat ..."). Also, much of the original equipment 
was never designed to last 75 years and became hazardous to operate and use. Because 
the theatre has not changed much physically through the years, a restoration project was 
created to deal with the problems that do exist. 

Since the theater is currently listed in the Save America^ Treasures roster, the 
National Register of Historic Places and the State of Illinois Remster of Historic Sites 
there should be no question why the theatre is being restored ("Case . .. " 4). Yet. none of 
this would ever have come together without the Kerasotes family donating the theatre to 
Rockford. The gift did have some strings attached. The city had to come up with the 
money to complete the restoration (Peterson "Coronado ...") 

Many people and organizations became involved in the effort to raise mone\ and 
support the restoration of the Coronado Theatre. The main organization that was created 
to raise the money necessary to preserve, protect and promote the Coronado Theatre is 
the Friends of the ( 'oronado ("Role ..."). Gwen Quirk is the development specialist for 
the organization. She was hired in August of 1998 to write grant proposals and press 
releases. Gwen has a Masters Degree in Theater and has seen mam other theatres She 
states, "1 have been to theatres in Milwaukee and others and have not seen one quite as 

Greg Sonneson Sonneson - ( > 



beautiful as the Coronado. " Gwen is very excited to be a part of this project and says it is 
going very well. Another person closely involved with the Coronado Theatre is Mam 
Mangas. She is currently one of the board members for the Land Oj Lincoln Theater 
Organ Society, which devotes time to the preservation of theatre organs in the state ol 
Illinois. She is also the chairman of a group that gives informational tours of the theatre 
An avid historian of the Coronado Theatre, she has researched it for the last eight to ten 
years. Gwen and Marty are both major contributors in a new book titled The ( oronado 
Theatre: Rockford's Crown Jewel. 

The restoration project has a mission to bring the theatre into the 21 st century. 
The primary goal is to make the theatre more functional without disrupting the splendor 
and beauty that patrons admired for almost 75 years. There are many projects being 
completed to meet this requirement. The stage is being expanded to allow the showing of 
grander Broadway-style shows. Some of the seating will be able to be removed to house 
more guests who are wheelchair bound. Elevators were added to accommodate others 
who may have disabilities. The bathrooms were enlarged and many more stalls were 
added to help reduce the congestion that can amass from a large Broadway-style show or 
symphony concert ("The Coronado Theater . . . "). Yet the mystique and beaut) will 
remain the same as they were prior to the restoration. 

A sad story comes from an item that cannot be restored. An article titled 
"Callboard Bears Witness To 'Live Theater" Tradition" by Ruth Marshall in the 
December 28' , 1958 issue of the Rockford Reaister Star states: "The signatures ranging 
from those carefully penned to hasty scrawls, crisscross every inch of a callboard that 
hung in the dressing room corridor of the Coronado since the theatre opened in October, 

Greg Sonneson Sonneson-10 


1927." Some of the names on this eallboard would stand out vividly to most people 
today. It included such names as Bob Hope, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Jackie Coogan. Bob 
Hope played in "■Roberta" in the theatre's inaugural season. When Gvven Quirk was 
asked what had ever become of the eallboard, she stated, "There is no proof of this, but 
here is the common deduction: after the Kerasotes family purchased the theatre in I ( n<> 
from the Van Matre estate, they let go some of the staff. One of the managers they let go 
became disgruntled and claimed the eallboard for himself." Unfortunately, no one has 
found it yet. It would be a great conversation piece to have displayed in the lobby during 
and after the re-opening. 

This writer states, "Even though the eallboard is no longer around, I still cannot 
wait until the Grand Re-opening of the Coronado Theatre. It will be a great honor to be 
able to step foot in this masterpiece that I have been researching for so long. I wonder if 
it will be around for another 75 years. If it is, maybe there will be another person doing 
research on it for an English paper. I'm thankful the executives for the Schumann Piano 
Company went with Mr. Van Matre's proposal for a theatre instead of the funeral parlors. 
Theatres are usually more uplifting and patrons normally don't cry every time they go." 

Greg Sonneson Sonneson - 1 I 



Works Cited 
"Celebrating 70 Years of Coronado Entertainment." Rockfordiana Files n d .: I heaters. 

Folder 5. 
"Clearing oFN. Main Site Begins Soon.' 1 Rockford Evening Star 30 April 1926: n p 
"The Coronado." Rockford Daily Republic 8 Oct. 1927: n. p. 

"The Coronado Theater Preservation & Expansion Project." HC Johnson Press n. d.: 6 
"Coronado Opens To Huge and Appreciative Audience." Rockfordiana Files 14 Oct. 

1927: n. p. 
"Coronado Sold to Kerasotes Theater Chain." Rockford Register Star 19 June 1970: n p 
"Coronado: Splendid Old Palace Of Fantasy." Rockford Register Star 22 Feb. 1970: n. p. 
"Coronado Theater Opened Thirty Years Ago Today." Rockford Register Star 9 Sept. 

1953: n. p. 
DeDoncker, Mike, and Michele Meyer. "Coronado Theatre Shuts Its Doors on Film 

Business." Rockford Register Star 12 Jan. 1984: n. p. 
Mangas, Marty. "City's Crown Jewel." Rockford Register Star 6 Jan. 1998: 9A. 
Mangas, Marty. Personal interview. 8 Nov. 2000. 
Marshall, Ruth. "Callboard Bears Witness to 'Live Theater* Tradition." The Rockford 

Morning Star 28 Dec, 1958: n. p. 
"New Coronado Marks Growth of North Main." The Rockford Morning Star 9 Oct 

1927: n. p. 
Peterson, Wayne. "Coronado Theater Is A Good Gift Indeed." Rockford Register Star 28 

Nov. 1997: n. p. 

Greg Sonneson Sonneson-12 


Peterson, Wayne. 'Treat The Coronado As The Treasure It Is."' Rockford Register Star 19 

Dec. 1997: n. p. 
"Plaster Art of Expert Artist in New Theater." The Rockford Morning Star 9 Oct. 1 927 

n. p. 
Quirk, Gwen. "Case for Support." Friends of the Coronado n. d : 1-6 
Quirk, Gwen. Phone interview. 29 Nov. 2000. 
"Renovation Thrusts Durable Coronado Back Into Limelight." Rockford Register Star 13 

June 1999: 16A. 
"Role of 'Friends' Evolves From Fund-Raising to Preservation and Community Usage." 

Coronado Marquee Nov. 2000: 4. 
"Rush Beautiful Coronado Theater to Completion." The Rockford Morning Star 25 Sept. 

1927: n. p. 
Smith, Mary Ann. "Coronado Could Fuel Downtown Boom." Rockford Register Star 28 

June 1998: n. p. 
Sonneson, Greg. Personal interview. 29 Nov. 2000. 

"Theater Chain Founder Dies." The Rockford Morning Star 24 April 1953: n. p. 
Trank, Dooney. "'Coronado' Is The Name of New Theater." Register Gazette 4 May 

1927: n. p. 

Greg Sonneson Sonneson - 13 



Photographs Cited 
"About The Coronado." The Rockford MetroCentre 28 Nov 2000. 1 2 Dee 2000 

Burt, Brad. "A Sign Of Things To Come." Rockford Register Star 4 Nov 2000: 1 A. 
Carr, Jordan. "The Coronado Theater." 
Carter, Bryn. "The Coronado Theater." 
Keller, Danielle. "The Coronado Theater." 
Hurka, Guy, Rockford Lens and Shutter Club, and Bill Lamb. "Coronado Theater 50 th 

Anniversary Commemorative Book." Land of Lincoln Theater On?an Society 

Aug 1985. 
"One Beautiful Book." Coronado Marquee . Rockford: Friends of the Coronado, Nov 

2000: 5. 

Greg Sonneson 


Sonneson - 1 4 


Mezzanine and Mirror 

Three-dimensional Building (Carr! 

'. I 


Bust of Francisco Vasquez De Coronado (Carter) 

Greg Sonneson 


Sonneson - I 5 

Massive Chandelier (Keller) 

Dragon Grill (Carter) 


"Golden Voiced Barton Organ" (About ...") 

Spanish and Moorish Villages ("About ...") 

Greg Sonneson 

Sonneson - 16 

Cloud Machine (Hurka) 

Original Mezzanine (Hurka) 

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ftNK WAI ; 


"H PO! 

Marquee made-up for coming attraction (Hurka) 

Greg Sonneson 


Sonneson - 17 

Original Sign ("One ...") 

Sign Before Renovation 



:R/>» W /* 



it V 

New Renovated Sinn (Burt 1 A 

Greg Sonneson 

Sonneson - 1 8 

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Map of Rockford area in 1 858 

The Field of Honor 

■ ■ 


Robert L. O'Quinn 
04 December 2000 

RockValley College 

Robert L Q'Quinn Q'Quinn-1 

English 101 DM 
24 November 2000 

Field of Honor 

In 1 974, Arthur Anderson was in England at St. Paul Cathedral. He was looking through a book 
that contained the names of 1 5,000 men who were killed in raids over Germany and France. " Two of the 
young men aged eighteen to twenty years old were good friends of mine," said Mr. Anderson. "One was 
my next door neighbor and the other was a classmate. I started to wonder why they were being honored 
as heroes in another country and we did nothing in our own community" said Mr. Anderson. 

(Anderson, Interview). 

The writer asked, "Why was there such a long period between the idea and breakinq around?" 
"Veterans are different people, most men don't like to talk about the war. It isn't baggage you want to 
carry around." Said Mr. Anderson (Anderson, Interview). 

The memorial did not come easy. There were obstacles that had to be over come, such as the 
death of Cal Covert, the CEO of Woodward Governor Company. " Covert had a spirit about him that was 
able to garner up big support for just about any project he was interested in seeinq done." Mr. Anderson 
said. Another situation struck when the sculptor Gene Horvath died. He died after completing only half of 
the eight bronze statues, after undergoing life threatening heart surgery. (Werner, Peqqv "Field of Honor 
Project-and Price Tag-Grows") Mr. Anderson made a contract with Mr. Horvath himself personally. Mr. 
Anderson paid the contract in full and then Mr. Horvath died without completinq the statues Mr. Anderson 
did not press the issue very far but Mr. 


Anderson wanted to get back to work on the memorial. 

After about six months of searching for another sculptor, Mr. Anderson found a man named Chris 
Bennett of Iowa to finish the job. However Mr. Bennett was not as negotiable and wanted more money 
(Anderson, Interview). 

The Environmental Protection Agency turned out to be another major problem; they raised 
concerns about a former landfill beneath Sand Park, Mr. Anderson spent years working to solve these, 
refusing to take a chance the EPA could some day sue the city for violations. The matter was resolved 
through the Chicago office (Werner, "Field of Honor Project-and Price Tag-Grows"). 

The cost of the memorial started out at a $1 00,000, however with a few ideas, a little bad luck 
and the cost went to $750,000, The park blue print was drawn by John Cook, who often works on Rockford 
Park District projects. It included extensive landscaping with a hushed atmosphere of privacy. There are 
benches to sit on for people to think. Many contributions came from people Arthur Anderson knew. The 
Rockford Park District donated the land and $10,000, The City of Loves Park donated $50,000; Veterans 
of Foreign wars donated $25,000, Many other private contributions came in { Nordstijerman ), There were 
other offers to give tanks and other weapons of mass destruction, but Arthur Anderson said "NO" and 
added, " I'm not trying to glorify war. What I am trying to do id pay tribute to the Veterans". 

Vandalism has also taken place at the memorial. Ten Base brand speakers were taken. Paint 
balls were used to deface at least one of the statues and a column, and someone broke the trigger off a 
gun and a hole has been put into the shoulder of another statue. (Olsen, " Field of Honor Vandalized"^. 
It's the belief who ever desecrate the memorial has no idea what it means and should be educated. To 
deface heroes monument 

is more than a crime; it is just a shame. Those who did the shameful crime will be judged sometime for 
their actions and my hope is all the heroes who names hang there with pride will be their jury. 

It is hard to believe that this property of Marshall middle School. This property was a schoolyard 
from 1 955 to 1 986. (Burden, Robert) For thirty-one years, this was the battleground for it was time for 
running, jumping, and playing with the imagination. The laughter stopped in 1 986. From 1 986 to 1 991 , 
the Loves Park City Hall in conjunction with Rockford Park District owned the property. The location is the 
center of Loves Park, Riverside, and Heart Blvd. 

The memorial broke ground in November 1991 and was dedicated on November 10, 1995 the 
first time unfinished to celebrate the 50 past years of WWII. A year later it was dedicated on November 1 0. 

The writers experience at the Field of Honor. Starts at a four-by-eight foot siqn made of wood 
painted white, reading "Peace Park Veterans Memorial" in reds letters. One drivers Heart Blvd., which is a 
short small two-lane road. The schoolyard looks well groomed and has not seen playtime in years. It is as 
if the silence of children's laughter has put the yard to rest for eternity. 

The memorial is in a corner that is made of a circle, surrounded by trees, flowers, and over grown 
weeds. The setting is red brick walkways with concrete boarders. The writer enters the memonal and 
triggers a sensor and patriotic music starts to play. In the center of the circle sets a pillar about three feet 
high with a brass plate reading: "The memorial is surrounded by fields of greenery to represent the peace 
and freedom which the veterans have fought to preserve." Those words and music set a tone, and pull the 
emotions on to see more of what all these men and women died for. Behind the pillar stand eight bronze 
statues, each representing a man or woman of war. The overwhelming feeling to touch them is compelling. 
They should know that someone there can feel their pain and know of their sacrifice. 


The statues present a weathered and dilapidated look. Yet, through it all, they all stood tall and proud. 

Behind the statues are five qreat pillars standing twelve feet tall. Each announces the dates of the 
five wars our country has been in the twentieth century: WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and Persian Gulf. 

The music stops and suddenly the senses came to life as if the writer returns from a journey. 
Never did the writer notice the smell of orange flowers and the calling of crows until the music stopped. 
The writer leaves and stopped to look back and knows there would be a return visit. 

" Today, when people walk up to the memorial, I would like them to remember, feel respect, and 
be moved by what they see, I want it to be a reminder if the supreme sacrifice made by many," said Mr. 
Anderson. "It was exactly that for this writer." Take the time to go on a journey, feel what Arthur Anderson 
wants you to feel, and let it be a reminder of the supreme sacrifice. 

Works Cited 

Anderson, Arthur. Field of Honor; Personal interview with Arthur Anderson, 20 October 2000. 
Burden, Robert. History of the property: Phone interview with Robert Burden on the dates of 

Marshall Middle School, to City Hall, to present. 20 October 2000 
Olsen, Brian. " Field of Honor Vandalized": Journal ] 4 January 1 998. 
Setterdahl, Lilly. " Memorial in Rockford initiated by son of Swedish immigrants. " Nordstljernan 

No. 35 Volume 127. 
Werner, Peggy. " Field of Honor Project-and Price Tag-Grows." Journal \ 5 January 1 997 p. 4. 

- " National VFW Group Gives $2,500 to Field of Honor." Journal 1 5 
January 1 997 p, 4, 

- " Field of Honor $1 60,000 Away from Complete." Journal VS July 1 996 
p. 3. 

Woods, John, " Memorial Planned for All Vets," Rockford Register Star 01 November 1991 p,2. 
All newspaper clippings can be found at the North Suburban Library. Local History room. 

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Greater Rock ford Airport's Journey Through Time 


Nicole Gatchel 

30 November 2000 

Rock Valley College 


Nicole Gatchel 

English 101 

30 November 2000 

The Greater Rockford Airports Journey Through Time 

In the 1950s Camp Grant became the birthplace of the Greater Rockford Airport. The 
Greater Rockford Airport has never left home which home is located one mile south of South 
Main Street on Falcon Road in Rockford, Illinois. As the many years went by and the airport 
expanded in size and business structures, so did the history of employment. 

Camp Grant was located where now is known as Greater Rockford Airport. The land that 
used to be filled with bunkers, blood, and sounds of war, was thought by many to become 
housing for veterans. This thought became irrelevant when Kimball L. Findenstaedt was elected 
chairman of the Airport Authority Board. Finkenstaedt thought Camp Grant was not only an 
ideal place for an airport, but also a very beautiful location. Because he had such strong goals 
about turning Camp Grant into an airport site, Finkenstaedt filed an appeal to obtain the land 
where the camp was located ("Seek Camp. . ."). 

To start construction, 26 warehouses were sold or leased for storage space near the area 
designated for the landing strip. Then, one hundred twenty different buildings were sold and 
removed in their entirety from the site ("26 Warehouses. . ."). The first step to be taken happened 
in 1948 was the construction of three runways, which were 100 feet wide and 4.100 feet long 
("Begin..."). In addition, Kishwaukee Rd. ("State...") and a 130-foot tall water tank had to be 
relocated because they were in airport property ("Open Bids. . ."). The planned finish date for the 
construction of the airport was set for October 13, 1949. The plans were being carried out 


smoothly and the outlook on being finished in time for the due date looked very likely ("Will 

Preparing for opening operations at the Greater Rockford Airport in early 1 950, Warren 
D. "Cy" Weaver was hired on a temporary basis as an operations officer. He was in charge of 
handling all airport customers. Weaver was no stranger to the Rockford fliers as he served as an 
instructor at Machesney Field after World War II. With the addition of a gasoline truck to the 
equipment and Weaver to handle the serving of planes, the airfield had great hopes of stepping 
up. The fabrication of the steel was being done on the operations hanger, and the target date for 
completion was in the spring ("Name Weaver. . ."). 

K. L. Frinkenstaedt announced that a Class 3 Certificate, which allowed private and 
commercial air flight activity, for the field, in 1950. The 1,192-acre parcel of land the federal 
government deeded to the airport from formally Camp Grant made the airport one of the largest 
fields in the state ("Airport Given..."). 

Flights were booked solid. Starting on September 26, 1950, passengers paid S4.75 for the 
trip to Chicago or Milwaukee; passengers going to Sioux City paid $2.30, with a 15% federal tax 
added to all fares ("First. . ."). By the year's end, Charles W. Scott had been appointed manager 
of the Greater Rockford Airport. Scott fit the position the airport authorities were trying to fill. 
He had been involved with the invasion of France in W W II and was promoted to the rank of 
captain for his efforts. "Cy" Weaver continued being in charge of flight operations ("Name 

By May 1951, personnel hiring was a must. As the flights increased, the demand to add 
the staff had to be accommodated ("Mid-Continent..."). 


Gilbert Henning, the chief engineer of the Greater Rockford Airport, announced his 
resignation to report to service as a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy. Henning had been 
appointed to the board as a temporary position. During his tenure at the Greater Rockford 
Airport he saw the old Camp Grant transformed to a modern airport, being used by private and 
airline planes. Henning was succeeded by Edmund Goncki with Weaver as an assistant 

As the development continued to grow, the Greater Rockford Airport poured concrete for 
new runways and additional loading ramps. With 1951 drawing to an end, the Greater Rockford 
Airport illuminated the runways, which allowed flights regularly at night. Taxes were lowered 
due to the hike in income at the airport from a high of $220,485 in 1949 to $192,000 in 1952. 
This shows the success in the airport from birth to its youth ("Hike. . ."). 

Nearly 20,000 individuals had taken advantage of the airport, whether it was departing 
from Rockford or entering the city on a flight as of 1952. The airport now supported ten flights 
leaving and ten flights arriving each day. The class "P" certification the airport received allowed 
military aircraft to land without having specific instructions ("Nearly. . ."). 

By April of 1953, the sixth, and final phase, of expansion took place since the opening in 
1948. It was valued at $3,800,000 and considered nationally as one of the soundest municipal 
operations around the country. Things seemed to stay quiet through the year 1953 ("Airport 
Valued. . ."). By October, they were celebrating the grand opening of the new terminal building. 
This terminal was originally used for the officers club at Camp Grant and was valued at 
$400,000. Shortly after the close of World War II, it became airport property. The two-story 
building was transplanted from the Rock River bank site to adjacent the (light apron ("Open 


Grant Baer resigned from the Rockford Police Department to join the airport staff as a 
traffic officer in August of 1947. Later he became the security and maintenance officer. Then in 
1954, Baer was appointed the new manager of the Greater Rockford Airport ("Baer Named..."). 
At the ceremonies dedicating the Greater Rockford Airport in November of 1954, nearly 20.000 
people were in attendance to hear guest speaker Governor William G. Stratton pay tribute to the 
workers and area residents who contributed time and effort to the building and operations of the 
airport. Stratton said, "Without Rockford's men of vision, we would not be here dedicating an 
airport today.'" The enthusiasm that was in the crowd, despite the chilly 40-degree weather, was 
not altered. Sports cars and civilian and military aircraft were on display. To top the event off. 
an aerobatic performance by Steve Wittman and Robert A. Porter, noted speed pilots, was 
conducted ("20,000..."). 

In 1955, a new $60,000 control tower was the plan of action. Foster Smith, Chairman of 
the Airport and the Control Tower, continued construction of hangars to "meet the growing 
demands" ("Control. . ."). Baer put in his resignation in February of 1955. It was a task 
performed "with regret" said the commissioner C. W. Kissel and gave Baer praise for a "good 
job dam well done" ("Baer Quits. . ."). 

By March of 1955, R. P. Selfridge was hired for the manager position. He was to receive 
$7,000 annually ("New Manager. . ."). Warren O "Cy" Weaver, the second executive, resigned 
on March 16, 1955, after he had served for five years. Weaver said, "Due to the merging of 
departments, I feel that I no longer have a future with the airport and you no longer have need of 
my services." The title of Operations Manager was awarded to the Flight Operations Personnel 
Robert Selfridge who took over these duties by the end of April 1 955 ("\Y. O. Weaver. . ."). 


Combining the tasks of operations manager and flight operations saved the airport $7,080. 
Smith felt consolidation of the two jobs was an "economy" measure ("Airport Jobs..."). 
At the conclusion of 1955, the airport approved the agreement to move the base of operations 
from Sterling- Rock Falls to Rockford as of December 15th. This would give the airport a 
$705.33 income from the facilities. The money would cover the depreciation insurance and bond 
interest on the building, therefore eliminating a loss sustained on the facilities under the Greater 
Rockford Airport management ("Airport Lease. . ."). 

By late 1956, Greater Rockford Airport leased the waterworks facilities to Rockford; in 
the agreement the city would provide the airport, with no cost, all the water it needed to operate. 
Previously, the city offered an average of 25,000 gallons a day. According to Selfridge. the 
average daily use was 30,000 gallons, resulting in the city paying a nominal $1.00 a year lease 

The undertaking of the "Christmas Tree Experiment" was launched in 1957. This plan 
was to plant 1,000 Colorado Spruce trees near Camp Grant or old "Tent City" and within five to 
six years the trees would mature to be Christmas trees. The Boy Scouts or civil groups could sell 
them. Each tree that was taken out was then replaced to continue the supply for the upcoming 
years (Carney). 

Liquor or no liquor, was the question that faced the Greater Rockford Airport 
Commissioners in 1958. Recently, the airport restaurant was opened and the issue of liquor \\ ith 
dinner came about. This would be the second time the County Board of Commissioners was to 
be faced with this question. Able to legally issue a liquor license themselves, the Greater 
Rockford Airport Commissioners unanimously issued themselves a liquor license even though ii 
would have been better coming from the County Board of Commissioners. To resolve the debate 

( jatchel-6 

over liquor, the board agreed, on one condition: that it was to be sold with food products only, 
which also meant that it could be sold on Sundays ("Votes. . ."). Associate Circuit Judge John S. 
Grant ruled that the Greater Rockford Airport Authority would pay taxes on the restaurant and 
cocktail lounge. "A restaurant and cocktail lounge are not a necessary adjunction to the 
operation of an airport," Grant exclaimed ("Judge. . ."). 

Five years of serving the Greater Rockford Airport Authority board of Commissioners as 
the Board Secretary was enough for Howard H. Monk. He resigned in 1 962 ("Monk. . ."), and 
Dr. Benjamin T. Schileichers, his brother, filled his shoes. Dr. Schleicher then resigned from the 
Rockford Park District position that he has held for 23 years to be eligible for the airport position 

Hitting a record high of 1 13,667 take-offs and landings in 1963 was a major 
accomplishment for the Greater Rockford Airport. Another great accomplishment happened in 
1964 when nearly 2,000 campers engulfed the airport property. People came from all over the 
country to indulge themselves in the EAA Fly-In. Illinois came in first with 263 guests, followed 
very closely by Ohio with 255, then Michigan with 173 and Wisconsin not far behind with 1 56 
("Airport Traffic. . ."). 

Executive Jets welcome! Extension of the runways done in 1965 extended them nearly 
5,000 feet. They were opened for use by 1966 ("Airport Runway. . ."). 

Election for Chairman of the Board of Commissioners in 1966 resulted in the re-election 
of Foster A. Smith. Smith, had been the chairman for 13 years and was with the board the \\ hole 
20 years since it was established ("Foster..."). Along with the tax ruling and Smith's re-election 
in 1966, William Robert Allen took Donald Denton's place on the Greater Rockford Airport 
Authority Board of Trustees ("Former..."). 


Native Tower Chief, Richard "Smoky" Smolla, left in 1967. Smolla had occupied the 
position since 1 958 ("Air. . ."). Smolla's leaving was not the only disaster that year. A tornado 
also hit in April. Fortunately, it was not close enough to have major effects, but it was costly 
nonetheless. Tearing off the roofs buildings and dismantling wings was the most damage done 
to the airport property ("Airport Surveys... "J. Also in 1967, Jack M. Mobley, who was the 
Administrative Assistant at the airport, was elected to become Manager ("Airport Aide. . ."). 

Extension of the main runway was expanded to 8,2000 feet. In order to satisfy the larger 
planes, houses would have to be removed to make room for the extensions ("Rockford. . ."). 
With all the changes done in the previous years, Arthur A. Inhof did not remember Rockford 
when he returned from Michigan in 1968. While Inhof moved in ("FAA. . ."), Edmund J. 
Groncki moved out. Richard Hosmer was to take Gronki's places as Engineer for Greater 
Rockford Airport ("Groncki. . ."). As a result of Groncki leaving, the cost for engineering 
increased ("Resignation..."). 

Forster A. Smith was once again re-elected as Chairman of the Greater Rockford Airport 
Authority Commissioners in 1969. Smith had been on the board for the past 23 years ("Airport 
Board Chairman. . ."). Jack M. Mobely, on the other hand, was leaving the position of 
administrative assistant ("Mobley..."). While Mobley flew out, while the annual 'Fly-In' took 
the same flight. Due to an argument over the aerobatic show and the campers on airport 
grounds, the 'Fly-In' was terminated ("Annual..."). 

Loud noises, rattling of dishes in the cupboard, and the pictures on the wall falling to the 
floor every hour were some of the many complaints of the residents near the airport in 1 9^0. 
Due to jet flight proficiency testing, the airport created a lot of noise. Resolution of the noise 
was that the pilots were told to be taking off from the south where it was less populated and to 

f jatchel-8 

fly at least 1,500 feet in the air when flying above the city. If the pilots needed to take off from 
the north that they had to take a sharp right or left turn after clearing airport property to cut down 
on the noise level ("Residents. . ."). Taking action against noise again in 1974, the CI 30s were 
moved to Rock County Airport to continue the touch-and-go landings. Also, 727s and Convair 
880s were banned to help decrease noise ('Rumbling. . ."). Rerouting the Beltline had to be done 
to complete the "master plan" of the airport runways, resulting in a two-mile runway ("Two- 

Unfortunately, on December 30, 1971, Frank Sanborn attempted to land at the Greater 
Rockford Airport. When he lost altitude, he smashed into a patch of trees on a farm a short 
distance from the airport. Because of the cold and foggy conditions, an inspection was done on 
the wings of the plane. Not knowing the cause, the only suspicion was the ice ("Fatal. . ."). 
Investigation of the fatal plane crash in December of 1971 resulted in the findings in January of 
1973 that the pilot was fatigued. Spending twelve hours out of a 15-hour period in the air, the 
pilot could not keep control of the plane any further, and crashed into a wood patch ("Pilot. . ."). 

The airport built an onsite fire station in 1972. Even though the law "prohibits 
discrimination for reasons of race, color, creed, and national origin" the fire crew did not have 
any "black fireman on the Rockford department" ("Minority. . ."). Along with a new fire station. 
there arose a new lawsuit against Ozark Airlines on grounds of canceling flights without 
informing the public. This resulted with a revoke of their operate passenger sen ice. Greater 
Rockford Airport Authority wanting to end the business of Ozark (Airport Board Plans..."). 
Believing that might work, and Ozark did not fight back ("Ozark. . ."). 

Charles F. Thomas resigned in 1975 after holding his position on the Greater Rockford 
Airport Authority Board of Commissioners for four months (Roper). While Thomas moved out, 


radioactive material moved in. 'There is no limit to the precautions some would like to take; no 
limit would satisfy some," Mayor Robert McGaw (Rubendall). 

The final draft of the construction was in 1976; all public and governmental agencies that 
had questions would be answered now. The $48 million plan was in the hands of the Federal 
Aviation Administration (FAA). Hoping to be completed in two weeks, the project started in 
December 1976 ("Long-range..."). 

In January of 1977, an "unpreventable crash took place." Two people perished— Michael 
R. Leighton, the pilot, and Diana Lebens, the passenger. The plane crashed into the banks of the 
Kishwaukee River on airport property "about 1,500 feet southeast of the runway they were trying 
to reach" ("Airport Crash. . ."). 

Judith Suit took office in 1977 as the first woman commissioner on the Greater Rockford 
Airport Authority. Taking Dr. Robert F. Schleicher's place, Suit expected "to get my feet wet 
and see what's needed" ("Woman. . ."). 

Being the third loudest airport in the state, the Greater Rockford Airport prohibited planes 
with noise above 80 decibels. In response to all the complaints from local residents. Chuck 
Thomas, a local attorney, had the comment, "We're supposed to convince everybody they're not 
supposed to develop around airports, and if they do, it's their problem." Robert Selfridge, 
former airport manager and executive director, now airport consultant, added that he would keep 
his home on the airport property despite the noise level (Peterson). 

The new Aviation Director was appointed in June of 197S. William 11. Grady, had 
already been with the airport 21 years as controller and a manager, and continued his 
responsibilities as the Director of Aviation at Greater Rockford Airport. Having this spot open 


since Robert P. Selfridge retired in September of 1977, Grady was just the man to fill the 
position ("William. . ."). 

Once again, getting complaints and threats over the phone about the noise at the Greater 
Rockford Airport was not unusual, however shooting at the Boeing 747 with a semi-automatic 
rifle certainly was. The training flights were stopped until the investigation of the shooting was 
over. The investigation of the shooting was not the only thing that was investigated. City and 
airport officials also investigated the noise at the Greater Rockford Airport. "The noise is 
extremely loud in the southern end of town," remarked Aid. Howard Dusek, a local resident. 
The training sessions, which consisted of many touch-and-go landings, went on from 9:45 p.m. 
to 12:45 a.m. Mayor Robert McGaw said the airport is just trying to do its job and get revenues" 

In January of 1979 there was a blizzard that kept everyone indoors, except the airport 
maintenance people of the Greater Rockford Airport. Snow plowing started at about three 
o'clock in the morning the airport was able to open at six o'clock the very morning. The Greater 
Rockford Airport was the first in the area to open for flights. Some airports did not open for two 
to three days. "I understand Bill was skiing around Saturday night, checking the runway 
conditions," Emery said. "That's the kind of dedication it takes." William "Bill" Grady, being 
the director of aviation at the time, liked keeping a "taunt ship" (Todd, "Rockford. . ."). 

In 1980 the airport panel was faced with questions from the U.S. General Accounting 
Office (GAO) in regards to misusing its land. The 80 acres of land that was leased to 2S 
industrial businesses acquired through federal assistance had regulations stated this land is used 
for airport business ("Airport Here. . ."). Dr. Walter G Fink, airport board chairman, commented 
that the Greater Rockford Aiiport commissioners would be leaving the conflict up to the GAO 

Gatchel-1 1 

and the FAA. The FAA approved every action taken by the airport and was only conflicting 
with the GAO. Being 1980 the airport had been taking these "questionable" actions for 26 years 
(Todd, "Airport"). 

In April 1982, the Greater Rockford Airport did not have very many people using the 
flights back and forth to O'Hare Field. Greater Rockford Airport Authorities hoped that more 
people would use this service, so it did not get terminated. If business did stay low then they 
would terminate the flights to O'Hare and change it to St. Louis. This was not the only hope 
coming from the Greater Rockford Airport Authority. They also hoped that the "mass firing by 
President Reagan of 13,000 air traffic controllers- to recover fast." Another hope was "perhaps 
smaller 'feeder' carriers- make Greater Rockford a part of their system" (Sweeney). 

On October 26, 1984 the ground breaking began for the two-step project that would be 
taking place. This project was to expand the Alpine Aviation Corporation and was agreed upon 
with the Greater Rockford Airport, starting with the construction of a 20,400-square-foot hangar 
and office to be added to the Alpine Aviation. Then an "1 1 7,000-square-foot ramp and taxi area 
to be used by Alpine Aviation and other hangars that would locate in the area." The two parts of 
the project cost $1.75 million and was completed in the early summer of 1985 (Petterson). 

Still using an old, remodeled WWII Camp Grant building, the thumbs up was given on 
August 21, 1985 for a new terminal building to be built, not requiring a referendum because the 
plan would cost only $5.43 million. The construction started in 1986, and the planned finished 
date for spring of 1987 (Adams, "Board. . ."). 

Taking flights from other airlines, the Greater Rockford Airport lost about 90° of their 
"potential passengers" in November of 1 985. A survey was taken and it show ed that of 90° o of 
missing passengers, 85% were using O'Hare Airport and the other five-percent \\ ere using other 


airports in the area. Plans to change flight destinations were thought that they would have to be 
done and hoped that that would convince the "potential passengers" to come back to using the 
Greater Rockford Airport (Adams, "Consultant..."). 

James R. Johnson, a Greater Rockford Airport public safety officer for nearly six years, 
claimed in March of 1986 that he was not informed why he was fired and that he was not given 
any notice of his firing, either. Filing a lawsuit for more than $4.5 million, he claimed the 
Greater Rockford "arbitrary, excessive, stigmatized him and deprived him of due process." 
Johnson had been "fired on charges that he violated an obscure work rule involving equipment 
he was issued by the airport," and that he did not contact his chief after he had been arrested for 
stealing a "small, coin-operated television set from the airport terminal. Johnson still wanted his 
lawsuit money even after it was brought to his attention that the discharge was only based on his 
actions (Adams, "Fired. . ."). 

On November 1 1, 1987 John T. Holmstrom III and Louis "Lou" Davies Clay were 
appointed to the Greater Rockford Airport Authority Board of Commissioners for a five-year 
term. Mayor John McNamera appointed Holmstrom and Clay at a City Council meeting. 
McNamera had also appointed Millie Zimmerman in 1981, and Terrance Kloss in 1982, which 
were the two people Holmstrom and Slay replaced now ("Holmstrom. . ."). 

By March of 1988 the airport terminal started to increase its business, but still having no 
flyers, instead with dinners. The Greater Rockford Airport was able to open the terminal to be 
rented out for large banquets and parties. Artwork by Suzanne Kauffman graced the "... 
greatest grand ballroom you can find," said Carl Zinc, vice president of St. James Envoy lnc 


Plans for an extension of the second largest runway at the Greater Rockford Airport, did 
not go over well with the local residents in 1988. With the extension of the runway, larger 
planes would be using the airport, which would in turn result in more noise for local residents. 
This construction was planned to starting 1988 and would end in 1993 (Roth). 

In September of 1990, the resignation of John T. Holmstrom III was on hold until the 
FAA gave thumbs up on the grant to extend the runway for larger planes. Holmstrom worked 
for William Charles Ltd., which owns 50% of the airport land that had to be bought in order to 
make the extensions. Holmstrom quoted, "My feeling, though, is that as soon as the grant is 
approved, I should resign because that is when the focus would be on acquiring that property" 

("Airport Official..."). 


Valet parking reached the airport in December of 1990. For $2 anyone could drop his her 
car off in the front of the airport terminal and pick it back up at the same place upon returning to 
the airport. Because of December weather, the valet parking was a big hit as no one cared to 
walk through the snow and get into a cold car or scrape off the windshield; it was all done for 
them ("OH. . ."). That was, until January of 1991, only one month after it was started, the valet 
service was "sent packing" due to several complaints from customers about being over charged. 
Upon questioning John Doe of these accusations the comment was, "The parking attendants 
would drive the cars all over town and return them with hundreds of miles put on the cars 
without the owners knowledge of doing so." In May, the valet service was back for a second 
round. A $3 charge was given to everyone whether they wanted their cars parked for a couple 
hours or a couple days ("Airport Curbs. . ."). Despite the complaints in the past, there \\ ere main 
requests for valet service to return. Most of the complaints were due to Excalibur Valet Parking 


Inc., so to avoid similar complaints a second time the airport managed the service themselves 

Coming to work for the Greater Rockford Airport in 1967 as the Rockford tower chief, 
Hugh Doyle remembered when they used to operate without radar for the planes. Being with the 
Greater Rockford Airport for 36 years and the tower chief for 25 years, Doyle found it hard to 
retire. Chip Wilson, area supervisor at the tower took the place of Doyle, until a new air traffic 
manager could be hired ("Tower. . ."). 

Fred Ford, airport manager, and two fellow employees used the airport credit cards for 
purchasing personal items from 1989 through 1990. The use of airport credit cards was 
discovered in May of 1992 and totaled a sum of $13, 000 ("Worker's... "). Also in 1992, a 
"cheerleader," Tara Blazer, was appointed to the Greater Rockford Airport Authorities 
Commission. Blazer did not have any experience with the airports or aviation, but the question 
was not whether she knew about airports, but rather does she know about business, and Tara 
knew her business. Tara filled Steve Vecchio's position that he had resigned from on May 1 . 
1992 ("Blazer... "). 

Rumors that were traveling around about bones being discovered on airport property, in 
1993, marked the final stages of the runway extension that had begun in 1989. The rumors 
started out as dinosaur remains, then they were thought to be bones from "forgotten veterans of 
WWI." Eventually the rumors about the bones ended, being said that they were the "remains of 
a lost tribe of American Indians." Being just rumors, these stories reeled the public in to become 
involved and find out what the true story was, and that there were no bones, just stories 


The United Parcel Service (UPS) built a center on airport property in 1 994. As stated by 
Chuck Billman, "The planes arrived full of packages around 10 p.m. They would land, unload 
their shipment, sort and reload the next shipment back on the plane. Take-off would be around 4 
a.m. that morning." This service produced an annual income of $3 million ("The Other. . ."). As 
a result of Fred Ford, airport executive director, getting UPS to set up a hub on airport property 
Ford received a $47,500 bonus, and an four-percent raise which increased his annual income to 
$129,335 ("Delivering... "). 

An agreement was made in August of 1994 that would terminate Fred Ford's 
employment as executive director, but he could continue as the consultant for the airport for 
$10,000 a month. This demotion was a result of two different sexual harassment charges 
brought forward after Ford received his bonus from the UPS job that was well done. When 
asking John Doe about these charges brought about against Ford they commented, "he got 
'railroaded' and was totally framed to get his money, and that was what they got." As a 
consultant Ford's responsibilities were to land federal money for UPS and support to move 
military units from O'Hare Airport in Chicago to Rockford ("Ford. . ."). While Ford was busy 
being a consultant, James Loomis stepped in to take Ford's place in April of 1995. Having 
worked at Montgomery Airport Authority since November of 1992 J. Donald Renolds. Chairman 
of the Montgomery Airport Authority, had only one comment, "You're very fortunate to get him. 
James is very laid back, but he runs a tight ship. I think he'll fit into the Rockford community 
very well" ("New Airport Director Named"). John Doe commented, "Who's to say \\ hat it 
would have become if Ford would have stayed," and "Ford had connections to keep the business 
running, Loomis is an out-of-towner and obviously did not have any connections." John Doe 
also said, "When Ford was there the airport was a booming business and when Loomis came to 


fill his shoes the airport turned into a ghost town. First, the St. James Envoy restaurant went out 
of business and then the Snack Shop went under also. Word was that Loomis didn't want any 
airlines flying in and out of Rockford, only cargo." 

In May of 1995, Mayor Charles Box appointed Mary Gorman to the Greater Rockford 
Airport Authority Board. Not getting a unanimous vote at the city council meeting, the rules 
were suspended and Box commented, "She's eminently well qualified" ("Attorney. . ."). 

By May of 1996, the airport taxes increased and passengers decreased. "Am I getting my 
money's worth?" was one of the questions asked and the airport was going to reveal a plan to 
lure passengers back into the Greater Rockford Airport ("Board. . ."). 

Not only did passengers decrease in 1996, employment did also. In July, Alvin Becker, a 
local banker, resigned from the Greater Rockford Airport Board after employment of eight years 
to avoid conflict. Becker said he "wanted to 'avoid event the scintilla of a conflict of interest" 
("Becker. . ."). Carl Dargene, local banker, followed Becker's lead and quit the Greater Rockford 
Airport Authority Board only ten days after Becker resigned. Dargene wanted to also avoid a 
conflict of interest ("Dargene..."). 

Mark Rivera, an airplane technician, bought "unapproved bearings that were installed in 
airplane starter generators" to save the airport money also put many people at risk. Rivera 
pleaded quilty to this charge and admitted in court to filing "false claims on airplane parts for 
$80,000 worth of credit." Rivera did not pocket the money, but was still held responsible for it 

On April 16, 1998 "a 727 passenger jet crashed at the Greater Rockford Aiiport. injuring 
40 people, half of whom were trapped in a section that separated from the aircraft." The disaster 
went well when you taken into consideration that the accident and victims were not real. "The 



whole purpose of it is to find out if you have any weakness and to correct them," Rick 
Rubendall, Airport Public Safety Chief ("The Disaster..."). 

Wanting to expand service to Rockford from Chicago, Peter Mowbray sent letters to city 
officials at O'Hare Airport in Chicago. Thinking his actions would pay off for Rockford "in the 
not-too-distant future" Mowbray was denied a renewed contract because he made "discomfort 
enter the Greater Rockford Airport" when things were going smoothly ("Did. . ."). 

Through the years of growth and development even though the Greater Rockford Airport 
has seen many changes in personnel, while experiencing much community involvement in both 
positive and negative aspects, has been able to mature to the present. 


Nicole Gatchel 

English 101 

30 November 2000 

Works Cited 

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Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 8-21-85. 
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Files. Rockford Public Library. 3-7-86. 
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Library. 6-4-69. 
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Public Library. 8-2-72. 
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Rockford Public Library. 
"Airport Curbs Valet Parking Service." Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 1-15-91. 

"Airport Given Class 3 Rating." Star. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public 1 ibrary. 

"Airport Here Charged With Misusing Its Land." Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. 


Rock ford Public Library. 1 1-15-80. 
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"Airport Lease Given To Illini." Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 

"Airport Official To Resign." Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public 

Library. 9-3-90. 
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Library. 7-21-65. 
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Library. 4-26-67. 
"Airport Traffic Hits Record High." Register Republic . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 1-7-64. 
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Public Library. 4-26-53. 
"Annual 'Fly-In' Here Discontinued." Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 12-3-69. 
"Attorney Selected For Airport Board." Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 5-5-95. 
"Baer Named As Manager Of Airport." Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public 

Library. 2-17-54. 
"Baer Quits As Manager Of Airport." Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public 

Library. 1-19-55. 


"Becker Resigns From Airport Board." Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 6-19-96. 
"Begin Work In Early Spring On 3 Runways." Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 2-7-48. 
Billman, Chuck. Personal Interview. 1 1-9-00. 
"Blazer OK'd For Rockford Airport Board." Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 7-24-92. 
"Board Pressed To Prove Airport Worth The Cost." Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 5-10-96. 
Carney, Ed. "Airport Head Undertakes Christmas Tree Experiment." Star . Rockfordiana 

Files. Rockford Public Library. 3-26-57. 
"Control Tower Next Project Planned For Rockford Airport." Star . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 1-9-55. 
"Dargene To Quit Airport Board." Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public 

Library. 6-29-96. 
"Delivering UPS Pays Off For Fred Ford." Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 2-15-94. 
"Did Airport Consultant Go Beyond His Role?" Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 2-3-99. 
"Disaster 'Went Real Well'." Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public 

Library. 4-26-98. 
Doe, John. Personal Interview. 1 1-30-00. 
"FAA Picks Chief For Airport Here." Register Republic . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 


Public Library. 4-6-68. 
"Fatal Crash Pilot Soloed 'Round World." Register Repulic . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 1 2-30-7 1 . 
"First Flight's Booked Solid." Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 

"Foster A. Smith Re-elected Chairman Of Airport Board." Star . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 5-18-66. 
"Ford Leaves Airport Post." Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 

"Former Alderman Joins Airport Unit." Register Republic . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 12-5-66. 
"Groncki Resigns Airport Position." Register Republic . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 6-18-68. 
"Pfenning Resigns As Airport Engineer; Reports To Navy." Star . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 5-30-5 1 . 
"Hike Income For Airport." Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 

"Holmstrom, Clay Join Airport Board." Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 11-11-87. 
"Judge Rules Airport Must Pay Taxes On Cafe-Bar; Manager's Home Exempt." Star . 

Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 8-25-66. 
Koper, Terry. "C. F. Thomas Resigns City Airport Board." Star . Rockfordiana Kilos. 

Rockford Public Library. 7-1-75. 


Khang, Kathy. "Valet Service Takes Off At Local Airport. " Register Star . 

Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 5-1-91. 
"Leased Water Facilities. " Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 

"Long-range Plan For Airport Is Nearing Final-draft Stage." Star . Rockfordianan Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 1 1-30-76. 
"Mid-Continent Hikes Personnel Here To 10." Register Republic . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 1-5-51. 
"Minority Fireman Hiring For Airport Crews OK'd." Star . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 1-5-72. 
"Mobley To Leave Airport Post Here." Register Republic . Rockfordiana files. 

Rockford Public Library. 7-29-69. 
"Monk To Quit Airport Board." Register Republic . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 4-24-62. 
"Name Charles Scott Manager Of Greater Rockford Airport." Star . Rockfordianan Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 12-20-50. 
"Name Weaver Acting Head For Airport." Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 1-5-50. 
"Nearly 20,000 Fly From Here." Star. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 

"New Airport Director Named." Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public 

Library. 4-5-95. 
"New Airport Director Ready To 'Cany On'." Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. 


Rockford Public Library. 4-7-95. 
"New Manager Given $7,000 Airport Post." Register Republic . Rockfordiana files. 

Rockford Public Library. 
"OH, VALET!" Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 12-17-90. 
"The Other Hub!" Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 

"Open Bids On Camp Tower." Register Republic . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public 

Library. 8-26-48. 
"Open House is Scheduled." Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 10-6-53. 
"Ozark Probably Won't Contest Board's Petition." Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 8-3-72. 
Patterson, Gregory A. "Airport, Alpine Aviation Begin SI. 75 Million Joint Expansion." 

Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 10-26-84. 
Peterson, Eileen. "Airport Pushes For Variance On Noise Rule." Star . Rockfordiana 

Files. Rockford Public Library. 
"Pilot Fatigue Caused Fatal Plane Crash." Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 1-27-73. 
"Plane Mechanic Pleads Quilty." Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public 

Library. 3-29-97. 
"Residents Upset Over Landing Noise Of Jets." Star. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 6-13-70. 
"Resignation Hikes Cost Of Runway." Register Republic . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 6-19-68. 



"Rockford Airport To Extend Main Runway 2,200 Feet." Star . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 1-7-68. 
Roth, Norma. "Airport's Popularity Up, At Least Among Non-Fliers." Register Star . 

Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 3-5-88. 
Rubendall, Ben. "Army Mum On Airlift." Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public 

Library. 9-5-75. 
"Rumbling Hercules Will Move Noise Away From City." Register Republic . 

Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 5-1-74. 
"Rumors Fly About Bones Found At Airport Site." Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 2-23-73. 
Schafer, Tom. "Clam Up, Airport Neighbors Tell Practicing Jumbo Jet." Star . 

Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 9-21-78. 
"Scheicher's Brother OKs Airport Post." Register Republic . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 4-26-62. 
"Seek Camp As Airport Site." Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 

"State Releases Airport Money." Register Republic . Rockfordianan Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 5-12-48. 
Sweeney, Chuck. "Rockford Airport On A Wing And A Prayer." Register Journal . 

Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 4-1-S2. 
Todd, Dean. "Airport Panel To Let FAA Answer Land L r se Charges." Register Star . 

Rockford Public Library. 11-21 -SO. 
— . "Rockford Airport Keeps 'em Flying." Register Star Metro . Rockfordiana 


Files. Rockford Public Library. 1-21-79. 
— . 'The Tower." Register Republic . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 

"Tower Chief Hugh Doyle steps down." Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford 

Public Library. 4-30-92. 
"26 Warehouses To Remain on Airport Site." Star. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public 

Library. 5-16-47. 
"20,000 On Hand As Governor, Wife Dedicate Greater Rockford Airport." Star . 

Rockfordiana File. Rockford Public Library. 1 1-2-54. 
"Two-Mile Runway Is Planned Here." Star. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public 

Library. 12- 18-74. 
"Votes Own Liquor Permit." Star . Rockfodianan Files. Rockford Public Library. 9-10-58. 
"William Grady Named Director Of Aviation Here." Register Republic . Rockfordiana 

Files. Rockford Public Library. 6-21-78. 
"Will Finish Airport Work Here Today." Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public 

Library. 10-13-49. 
"Woman Joins Airport Board." Star . Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 

"Worker's Credit Card Use Under Scrutiny." Register Star . Rockfordiana Files. 

Rockford Public Library. 5-31-92. 
"W. O. Weaver Resigns Post With Airport." Star. Rockordiana Files. Rockford Public 

Library. 3-16-55. 


Gunite Corporation, 146 Years of Success 


Gary A. Young 

December 14, 2000 

Rock Valley College 







^^^Ti ■ 

Front Entrance to Gunite Corporation 
Picture by Author, 2000 

Young 1 

Gunite Corporation, 146 Years of Success 

As the oldest continuously-operating business in Rockford, Gunite Corporation has a long 
tradition of excellence and innovation to uphold. 

As the story unfolds Duncan Forbes and his son Alexander immigrated from Scotland to 
the United States in 1842 ("They" 6, "Gentlemen" 5) In Troy, New York they set up a foundry 
and worked it for ten years before coming to Rockford in the spring of 1 854. Prior to this, the 
railroad had come to Rockford only two years before at about the same time Rockford received 
its municipal charter (Nelson 6, "Gunite, One" 5). Before that the west side of the Rock River had 
been nothing but weeds and swamp. 

When the railroad came to town, the west side of the river started to develop with 
businesses using the river for a source of power. In 1854, with a population of approximately 
3000, business was starting to boom with the construction of a covered wooden bridge spanning 
the Rock River between East and West State Streets. The First Lutheran Church had been 
founded in January and Rockford had a new mayor, Ulysses M. Warner, a Democrat. Mr. Warner 
was the third mayor of Rockford (Nelson 6, Buckles 5). 

In March of 1 854, the Forbes family came to town, saw the promise that Rockford held. 
and immediately went to work, leasing a building on the west side of the river on the mill race. 
using the river to power the large induction fans used to draw air into the cupola they had built. 
Manpower and horsepower were used for everything else. By 1 864, they were the only malleable 
iron foundry west of Buffalo, New York making castings for the agriculture business ("Firm 
Founded" 5). 

In the August 8th issue of the Rock River Democrat ("Eagle" 5) the Eagle Foundry, 
Forbes and Son advertised that they were open for business. To think that five months after 


Young 2 

coming to Rockford Duncan and Alexander were running their new foundry producing goods for 
the local homes and farms is a staggering thought. At this time they were making such things as 
fireplace grates, parlor stoves, pots and pans, branding irons and sled runners. On a sad note, 
however, things were not all good, with a cholera epidemic taking the lives of fourteen people in 
July of that year. All fourteen were buried in a long row in Cedar Bluff Cemetery (Kellogg 6). 

Over the years the Eagle Foundry prospered and grew until, in 1 906, the Forbes 
purchased 54 acres of land at a $1000 an acre on what was then known as the Lathrop farm off of 
Kishwaukee Street ("Forbes" 5). Not only did this free them from the vagaries of the fluctuating 
water levels of the river in the summer and spring, but would also allow for future expansion over 
the years. Then known as Rockford Malleable Iron Works, the company was still family run. 

Setting up their main office at 302 Peoples Avenue ("Microsoft" 6, Map 10) on the south 
west side of Rockford, the company continued to expand over the years with an addition of a 
larger steel foundry in the early forties ("Gunite Foundries" 5), a machine shop in the mid fifties 
("Gunite Firm" 5) and a new steel and iron foundry in the late sixties and early seventies ("Gunite 
Plans" 6). Within the past ten years the company has concentrated on improving the air quality in 
the plant with the addition of two new state-of-the-art dust collection systems. 

In 1927, under the name of Rockford Malleable Iron Works, the company was a major 
supplier of parts for the "Model T car until the day that Ford Motor Car Company discontinued 
production of that car. At that time the company lost 60 to 80 percent of its business ("Gunite 
Tracking" 6, "Gunite Foundries" 5). It looked like the company would go under until Duncan 
Forbes, recently graduated from college, used idle facilities and technicians to experiment with 
something called gun metal ("Gunite Foundries" 5). This was a hard cast iron used to cast military 
ordnance. Using this knowledge, Duncan came up with a new form of cast iron which had the 
hard qualities of gun metal, but could be readily machined for making auto and truck wheels and 
drums. Not only was this a major innovation, but it also saved the company. 


Young 3 

Another change that occurred was in 1949 when the employees of Gunite voted to be 
represented by a Union, which is currently Local 718 of the U.A.W.. The company has not been 
free of labor disputes over the years, the most current being a strike in 1998, which was settled in 
a matter of weeks ("Gunite Workers" 6, "Contract Vote" 5). 

Not only has the company expanded over the years, but the production processes have 
changed dramatically. When asked what he thought was one of the biggest changes he had seen in 
over 31 years of service, Benny Crawford, current president of Local 718 of the U.A.W., said: "In 
all my years at Gunite the biggest change I have seen is in the use of automation to do some of the 
nastier jobs instead of risking the life and limb of the employees." As late as the 1940s Gunite was 
still hand-pouring molten metal and hand-making sand molds on the floor. These jobs are now 
accomplished by computer-controlled sand mixers, molding machines and man-operated overhead 
cranes using large ladles to pour the metal into molds on a continuously moving pouring line. 

Not only has the production processes changed over the years, but the emphasis on safety 
has changed. Gregg Scott, a 28-year veteran of the Gunite workforce also states: "Another major 
improvement I have seen over the years has been Gunite' s focus on safety and safety equipment. 
The personal protective equipment used now a days is a big improvement over some of the old 
pictures I have seen of guys pouring molten iron wearing nothing but gloves, a pair of jeans and 
work boots." 

In a photo taken in the 1940s ("Gunite Tracking" 6, Photo 9) one can see an employee 
hand pouring molten metal into a sand mold on the floor. This employee is wearing a soft hat. no 
shirt, and using a rag to protect his hands. Over the years, this has changed quite a bit. Gunite was 
the originator of the full-faced hood, air-supplied dust shield which is used industry wide now. A 
modern employee of Gunite is now required to wear a hard hat, safety glasses, hearing protection. 
steel-toed boots, respirator and depending on the job, gloves to protect his hands. In the case of 

Young 4 

the iron pourers, also required is flame retardant clothing, full face screen shields and dark safety 
glasses ("Gunite Tracking" 6, Photo 9). 

Even though the emphasis on safety has improved over the years Gunite has still had its 
dark days when, in the early 1990s, there were two fatalities within a three-year period ("2 
Workers" 6). At the time O.S.H.A. cited Gunite for numerous safety violations. In 1998 Gunite 
was cited $407,000, a near record in Illinois, $140,000 of that for exposing employees to 
industrial dust, the rest for 35 other alleged violations. Since that time, Gunite has been in the 
process of installing new dust collection systems to relieve the air quality problems as well as 
trying to correct any other safety violations. Employees are now trained in the lockout-tagout 
procedures required by O.S.H.A., as well as in the use of their personal protective gear ("OSHA" 

Safety concerns and production processes are not the only things that have changed at 
Gunite over the years. In a conversation with Steve Smith, Personnel Director for Gunite since 
1985, Mr. Smith states: " The biggest change I have seen since I have been here is in the field of 
personal communication technologies. When I started at Gunite the only computer in the shop 
was the main frame in the front office. Now you can't walk into a office without encountering a 
PC. With the advent of E-mail, voice mail and cell phones I am afraid that people are losing the 
personal touch of a face-to-face meeting with a hearty handshake. One benefit I do see is the 
speed of these communications, but I am concerned that young people of today are becoming too 
used to dealing with computer instead of interpersonal relations." 

As one can see, change has been an every day occurrence at Gunite Corporation and in 
146 years of production it has seen good times and bad, but the employees and management. 
over the years, have been proud to produce a quality product that is now an industry leader world 

Young 5 

Works Cited 

Atlas of the City of Rockford, Illinois, Winnabago County and Vacinity 1892, Rockford 

Public Library. 
Buckles, Stanley J. "City Politics And Government. . . East Side Vs. West Side", 

Sinnissippi Saga, A History Of Rockford And Winnabago County, Illinois, 

Copyright 1968: 73-102, The Rockford Public Library 
Crawford, Benny. Personal Interview November 6, 2000. 
"Contract Vote Ends Shutdown At Gunite ", The Register Star, The Rockfordiana 

File,The Rockford Public Library. 
"Eagle Foundry ", Rock River Democrat, Periodical Microfilm Library, Rockford Public 

"Firm Founded 100 Years Ago", The Register Star, Rockfordiana File, The Rockford 

Public Library. 
"Forbes Company Buys Big Tracts", Rockford Register Star, The Rockfordiana File, The 

"Gentleman Who Talked Sense", Ye Town Gossips Weekly Report, The Register Star, 

The Rockfordiana File, The Rockford Public Library. 
"Gunite Firm Reveals New Growth Plan", The Register Star, The Rockfordiana File, The 

Rockford Public Library. 
"Gunite Foundries At 98, City's Oldest Manufacturing Firm", The Register Star. The 

Rockfordiana File. 
"Gunite, One Of The Oldest Rockford Industries, Stalled In 1854 ", The Register Star. 

The Rockfordiana File, The Rockford Public Library. 
"Gunite Plans $1.8 Million Addition", The Register Star, The Rockfordiana File. The 

Rockford Public Library. 

Young 6 

"Gunite Plans Big Expansion", The Register Star, The Rockfordiana File, The Rockford 

Public Library. 
"Gunite, Tracking Changes At Firm With Deep Rockford Roots ",(1993, December 1) 

The Register Star, The Rockfordiana File, The Rockford Public Library. 
"Gunite Workers Strike Over Wages, Hours ", The Register Star, The Rockfordiana File, 

The Rockford Public Library. 
Kellogg, Warren. "Chronological History. . . Day By Day Happenings", Sinnissippi Saga, 

A History Of Rockford And Winnabago County, Illinois, Copyright 1968: 503-535, 

The Rockford Public Library. 
"Microsoft Streets & Trips", CD-ROM, Microsoft Corporation, Copyright 1988-2000. 
Nelson, Herman G. "From Many Far Places, They Came To Settle Here", Sinnisippi 

Saga, A History Of Rockford and Winnabago County, Copyright 1968: 9-18, 

The Rockford Public Library. 
"OSHA Fines Gunite $407,000", The Register Star, The Rockfordiana File, The 

Rockford Public Library 
Scott, Gregg. Personal Interview November 6, 2000. 

Smith, Steve. Personal Interview September 15, 2000 and November 6, 2000. 
"They Came To Town A Century Ago ", Ye Town Gossips Weekly Report. The Register 

Star, The Rockfordiana File, The Rockford Public Library. 
Young, Gary (2000, September 1 5) Gunite Corporation, Gunite Corporation. 
"2 Workers Killed Since 1991, Gunite Faces "Hefty" Fines", ( 1991, December 1). 

The Register Star, The Rockfordiana File, The Rockford Public Library. 

Young 7 

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?W 7) 

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Young 8 

Duncan Taibn Tmiaiti Iadair, b ISM 

Duncan Forbes The Rockfordiana File 

Alexander Forbes The Rockfordiana File 

Young 9 

Gunite Worker Pouring Iron circa 1 940 
Rockfordiana File 

Gunite Worker Pouring Iron circa. 1 990 
Rockfordiana File 

Young 10 



Young 1 1 

Gunite Corporation 

302 Peoples Avenue 

Picture By Author 

Front Office & Powerhouse 
Picture By Author 

Young 12 

Personnel & Employees Entrance 
Photo by Author 2000 

New Dust Collector on West End 
Photo By Author 

Young 1 3 

New Outside Charge Crane 
Picture by Author 

Charge Crane Bay 
Picture by Author 

Harlem Amusement Parft 

A Hidden Mystery 


Michael R. Bonham 

10 December, 2000 

Rock Valley College 

1 *l* 


Mike Bonham would like to thank Scott Fisher, Dr. John 
Molyneaux, Vance Barrie and Jeff Bruening, for their guidance and insight. 
Mike Bonham would also like to thank Philo Parker for welcoming me into 
his home and allowing to be interviewed. 

There is an appendix at the end of this essay. It contains many 
photographs and newspaper clippings. It is made up of seven sections. The 
sections are categorized by the source, which the material was taken. 

The pamphlet "Harlem Park" by the Rockford and Interurban Railway 
Company is at the Rockford Park District office in Sinnissippi Park. 

The Rockford Chautauqua Assembly was located in Harlem Park. 
Mike Bonham did not include this in the following essay. Lyle Baie covers 
this material in his book Rockford' s Harlem Park The People and the Times. 

Mike Bonham 

English 101 

10 December 2000 

Harlem Park 
A Hidden Mystery 

Buried under a small park is a section of one of Rockford's greatest 
mysteries. This park is located on the west bank of the Rock River, 
encircled by Harlem Boulevard, Auburn Street and some houses near Rock 
Terrace. It consists of five benches enclosed by neatly trimmed grass and a 
few trees. The benches face east towards the Rock River. The park appears 
to be the epitome of tranquillity. 

However, this park is not what it seems; it is a tomb for the southern 
portion of Harlem Park. Today the southern part of Harlem Park lies there 
beneath the ground waiting for someone to unveil its great mystery. 

As a young man, Mike Bonham found out that there was a large roller 
coaster on the Rock River. Mike Bonham ascertained that the large roller 
coaster was in Harlem Park, which was the ''Great America" of its time 
("Hurrah"; "Summers"; "Popular"). 



Here is the birthplace of this great mystery. The mystery is, how could 
a park of this magnitude be forgotten, why are there no markings indicating 
Harlem Park's final resting-place and finally is Harlem Park truly dead? 

The mystery is: what is Harlem Park and what is its story? 
Uncovering the mystery of Harlem Park will be accomplished in five stages. 
The first three stages will include Harlem Park's connection with the Rock 
River, Philo Parker (a park's patron) and Rockford area business. The final 
two stages will describe what was there and what crumbs are left. 

From 1891 through 1928, Rockford was home to Harlem Park. For 
many years, Harlem Park served northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, 
as the premier amusement park. ("Hurrah"; "Summer's"; Parker; "Harlem 
Park is to Close"; Baie). Harlem Park was once alive with people and the 
gaiety they brought (Parker; Baie). 

Pompousness and grandeur filled the opening of Harlem Park. 
Politicians, businessmen and approximately 2,000 people attended the great 
event held on Thursday May 28, 1891. They arrived by street cars, bicycles, 
carriage and the steamer "Arrow" (Summers). 

The Rockford Daily Register-Gazette published these statements in an 
article almost one month before the park's opening. It is hard to fancy 
anything that will more fully further the attainment of this end than beautiful 





parks, where rich and poor alike may go during the hours of rest and leisure 
and enjoy the recuperative delights which the solacing halm of nature 
furnishes. Instance Chicago, where the most extensive and beautiful parks 
in the world are thrown open to the public, without money and without 
price, and with as few restrictions as is consonant with the care and 
preservation of those rare retreats. From the earliest spring, when it is 
warm enough in the open air to be fairly comfortable, until the biting 
Borean gallinippera give warning of a transition from the salubrity of 
autumn to winter 's frigidity, those resorts are crowed with the citizens of the 
metropolis, the tollers of the great city predominating on holidays and 

What these magnificent parks do for Chicago, it is expected Harlem 
park, on the Edgewater addition, will do for Rockford. ("Hurrah"). 

A profusion of beautiful flowers will burden the atmosphere with a 
fragrance so thick that you will carry it away in your whiskers and hair and 
clothes in spite of yourself ("Hurrah"). 

Harlem Park on opening day consisted of the switchback, row boats. 
the pavilion and scenery that man could not create without the hand of God 
intervening. The fountains shooting water in the air, the velvety lawns and a 


boulevard which had the Rock River as a backdrop. The cost for this project 
was $7,000, a tidy sum for those days ("Hurrah"; "Summer"). 

The pavilion and the switchback were the most prominent attractions 
in the park on opening day. 

Bradley and Sons drew the plans for the two-story pavilion 
("Hurrah"). The upper floor was a restaurant, which opened at 9 A.M. and 
closed at 1 1:00 P.M. ("Appendix" D-3). 

The switchback stood 50 feet, even with the top of trees ("appendix 
A8-A1 0, E4; "Hurrah"). Its patrons sat in one of three cars and traveled 
1,100 feet for the nickel fare ("Hurrah"). 

The Rockford Daily Register-Gazette gave a detailed description 
about the experience to its readers. A person climbed up stairs to the top of 
the ride, where he would meet the conductor ("Hurrah"; Baie). The 
conductor will collect your fare in advance to prevent complications with the 
heirs in case anything should happen you are switched back. The ride 
consists of three cars each holding six passengers and a conductor 
("Hurrah "). The first descent was like a toboggan ride ("Hurrah"; "Will"). 
You go down at about the same rate you would travel if you fell from a 
balloon, or perhaps more rapidly ("Hurrah"). The ride slows as it climbs 
the first incline by its own momentum. This will allow those on the ride to 


catch their breath only to lose it on the next drop ("Hurrah"; "Will"). The 
ride was somewhat mystifying to the people of that time ("Hurrah") 

The story of how the switckback came to Rockford is as interesting as 
the ride itself. In the fall of 1890, John Camlin and a group of businessmen 
went to Sioux City, Iowa for some fresh Ideas. When John Camlin saw the 
switchback, it became his project ("Summers"). He contracted W. F. Wilbur 
to construct the switchback ("Summers"). In less than one year and $4,000, 
three people tested the switchback ("Will"; "Hurrah"). 

Harlem Park was located on the west bank of the Rock River. The 
river was a strong asset to the park and fulfilled many of Rockford' s needs 
(Parker; "Hurrah"). 

One of the needs of the people was recreation. Boating increased in 
popularity during the late 1800's (Parker; "Hurrah"; "appendix" G3). The 
Harlem Park Company recognized this and built boat ramps in Harlem Park 
("Hurrah). Rowboats provided a means of transportation to the park 
(Parker). When Harlem Park opened, it was two miles from the business 
center of Rockford and short distance from Love's Park ("Hurrah; Parker; 
Rockford; Campbell 58). This made it a short canoe ride to the park. On 
occasions, Philo L. Parker would take a rowboat to Harlem Park (Parker). 




Transportation was not the only role Rock River played in the scheme 
of Harlem Park. On opening day, Harlem Park had 50 rowboats, which they 
rented out ("Hurrah"). Rowboats, switchback, pavilion and the restaurant 
were the main sources of revenue during the early days of Harlem Park 
("Harrah"). Mike Bonham believes these boats were a popular attraction. 

The river also played a part in relieving the patrons from the heat of 
the summer. Relief from the heat was intricate in the park's planning 
(Rockford). During the creation of the park, 50 men carefully thinned the 
trees in order to provide space for the attractions and still provide shade 
("Hurrah"). The shade, along with the breeze off the Rock River, provided 
the needed assistance from the heat ("Hurrah"). 

Harlem Park's layout included the scenery of the river. Beautiful 
boulevards lined with flowers and fountains followed the river ("Hurrah"; 
"appendix A6, A7). 

Ironically, the dirt covering Harlem Park came from the bottom of 
Rock River. The very river that brought life to Harlem Park provided the 
shroud that encompasses Harlem Park today. Mike Bonham believes the 
shroud actually only covers about one-half of the original park. The other 
half (north of Willoughby Terrace) is still at its original elevation. 


There are three pieces of evidence that substantiate the above claim, 
dealing with the present-day topography of Harlem Park. The Rock ford 
Register-Gazette on June 7, 1921 ran an article titled "Harlem Park is to 
Close Final Season Sunday." In this article, T. M. Ellis Jr., the new owner 
of Harlem Park, was going to close the park, in favor of building residential 
lots. The article also mentions, that Mr. Ellis received permission to build 
up the "low spots" six or more feet, using the Rock River's soft bottom as 
landfill. ("Harlem Park is to Close"). 

The second piece of evidence lies with all of the pictures of Harlem 
Park ("appendix" A4 - A8, A15, B3 - B5, B8, E3, F2 and F3). Harlem Park 
appears to be a relatively flat park. However, treetops and the top of a tower 
appears to be even with the park's entrance, giving an impression that the 
park is at a lower elevation ("Appendix A4). 

The Rockford Daily Register-Gazette holds the third piece of 
evidence. On May 6, 1891, the paper printed an article on Harlem Park 
called "Hurrah for Harlem Park". The article made mention that the cits 
Railroad was to extend its tracks to Harlem Park. The article clearly states 
that new extension was stopping at the edge of the hill a few yards from 
Harlem Park's entrance. 


Vance Barrie helped Mike Bonham in locating a former patron of 
Harlem Park. His name is Philo L. Parker. Mike Bonham interviewed him 
in his home on November 2, 2000. Mr. Parker was born in 1 907 on 
Rockford's north side. Mr. Parker began attending Harlem Park as a young 
man and frequented the park until it closed in 1928. The following section 
contains portions of the interview: 

Harlem Park was located east of Harlem Boulevard and west of the 
Rock River. Fulton Avenue marked the northern boundary and Auburn 
marked its southern boundary ("appendix" D2; Parker). The main entrance 
was on Harlem Boulevard between Harper and Brown Avenues (Baie). Mr. 
Parker remembers taking the street cars to Harlem Park. "The street cars 
were open on both sides so you could enter on one side and exit from the 

Mr. Parker's family would attend the park often when he was a kid. 
There were hot dog, refreshment and ice-cream stands inside the park. The 
Parker's would bring a picnic lunch and spend the day at the park. Electric 
lights allowed the park to stay open late (Parker; Baie). He also mentioned 
that there was no alcohol sold at the park (Parker; "Rockford"; "Appendix 



At the age of five or six, Mr. Parker, would ride the Carrousel as often 
as he could get nickels from his parents. When he was not riding the 
carrousel he was watching, the older kids ride. The carrousel was in an 
enclosed area with poles that circled the ride ("Appendix" B5). Steam was 
used to power the carrousel and was built for $4,000 ("Popular"). On these 
poles were rings. If you could get one of those rings on your finger, you 
could redeem them for a free ride. This was no easy matter. The poles were 
far enough away that you had to place one foot in the stirrup, hold on to the 
rail, and reach way out. A person could hurt his hand if he missed. Mr. 
Parker did confess that when he got older he received many free rides. This 
ride helped him with looking forward to riding live horses at an older age. 

Mr. Parker talked about the roller coaster and the great thrill it 
provided. He said it was as high as the trees ("Appendix" A 10). Mr. Parker 
did not spend much time talking about the switchback (roller coaster); the 
Mill was the ride embedded in his thoughts and conversation. 

The Mill was a boat ride with an unusual twist ("Appendix" All, 
A 12, F3). A person or a couple climbed into a small boat and a current 
carried the boat along its course. The ride took place in an enclosed area and 
was it was dark in many places. An eerie sound would creep into ears and 
play havoc within the mind of the participants of the ride. The only time 


there was any light was when a person came to a display. The displays were 
scary things like witches, goblins and even the devil. The last display was a 
bull or cow that kicked a tin bucket making a loud noise. This was very 
scary for a six or seven-year-old. Mr. Parker does not remember ever riding 
the Mill alone. 

As a young man in his teens and twenties, Mr. Parker found many 
activities that appealed to him. Harlem Park had roller-skating, swimming, 
live music and dancing, which appealed to Mr. Parker's age group. 

The pavilion hosted both the dances and roller-skating. These 
events were popular among all ages in spite of the admission charge. 
People took roller-skating very seriously. There was music while 
people skated. The young men and women would dance on skates as 
if they were on ice. There also were some feats of athleticism 
performed. Young men racing and jumping high and far in the air 
was a common sight. The girls did not perform the athletic activities; 
they mostly watched. The pavilion had seats in the outer area for 

Dancing was extremely popular and there were many places for a 
couple to go and dance. In the early 1900s, the owners of Harlem Park also 
owned Central Park and the Inglaterra Ballroom [Ing Skating Palace] 

Bonham-1 1 

(Breuning "Amusement"). All three places featured bands from all across 
the country and dancing as a main attraction (Parker; "Central Park's Garden 
to Open"; "Central Park to Have"). In 1928, CO. Breining managed both 
Harlem and Central Parks ("Harlem Park is to Close"; "Central Park to 
Have"). Mr. Parker told about a time when a lady asked him to a dance at 
Harlem Park. Mr. Parker agreed and enjoyed her company so much that he 
invited her to another dance a few days latter. One thing leads to another 
and she became his wife of over 70 years. 

Swimming was a major attraction at Harlem Park. The 150 feet pool 
was surrounded by a fence (Parker; "Harlem Park is Set"). Some of 
Rockford's best swimmers would compete in Harlem Park's swimming 
pool. Harlem Park hosted Rockford's first championship swimming meet 
("Harlem Park to See"). Johnny Weissmuller, a very famous swimmer, 
came to Harlem Park. Johnny Weissmuller "the fastest swimmer in the 
world" drew a large crowd. The park set up relays to race against Johnny 
Weissmuller. Any one who dared to challenge "the fastest swimmer in the 
world" could participate in the race. The race included some of Rockford's 
best swimmers. Johnny Weissmuller gave the challengers a large head start 
and without appearing to exert himself, still won. 



Philo Parker concluded his interview with a brief description of 
Central Park. The park was located on the corner of Auburn Street and 
Central Avenue. It had a large roller coaster and Mr. Parker attended some 
of their dances. Mr. Parker did not like it as much. He missed the Rock 
River. Central Park did not charge to enter its gardens ("Central Park 
Draws"). The free admission did not keep Mr. Parker from feeling they were 
only interested in his money. He felt as if they were rushing him to spend 
his money in a hurry and then leave. 

Harlem Park not only met the needs of one of its patrons; it also 
contributed to some of Rockford's businesses. The city railroad and the 
Rock River steamers had a tight bond with Harlem Park. 

The Rock River steamers were very popular about the same period as 
Harlem Park (Keiser 45). Harlem Park was "a key" stop for these steamers 
(Campbell 58; "Rockford"). The steamer's wharf was one block north and 
one-half block east of the Rockford Interurban Railway Station (Keister 45). 
People would take the street cars to the station and walk to the wharf. The 
steamers would leave their wharf; travel to Harlem Park and on to Loves 
Wood [Shorewood Park] (Keister 45; Campbell 58). 


Five steamers were around at the same time of Harlem Park. There 
was the "Arrow", "City of Rockford", "Queen", "May Lee" and the 
"Illinois" (Keister 45). 

The "Arrow" was the first steamer (Keister 45). It was often fully 
loaded with passengers making trips to Arrow and Harlem Parks (Will). In 
1900, the owners beached the Arrow because it was too small to make a 
profit (Keister 45). 

The steamer "City of Rockford", built in the 1890s, was too heavy and 
drew too much draft. An unknown buyer purchased the "City of Rockford". 

The steamer "Queen" had an iron hull and did not last long. An 
unknown buyer purchased the "Queen" (Keister 45). 

"May Lee" was the fourth of the Rock River steamers. She was a 
stern wheeler. The "May Lee" was named after her captain's two children 
(Keister). She docked along side the steamer "Illinois" at the foot of 
Mulberry Street (Keister 45). She could hold 400 passengers (Keister 45). 

Built in 1900, the fifth and principal river steamer was the "Illinois". 
The steamer docked behind the library and at Loves Wood. The two-deck 
steamer was 125 feet long (Keister 45). Its stack was so high that it had a 
hinge on it in order to go under The High Bridge (Bruening "Style"). The 
"Illinois" could hold 1,000 passengers and carried about 50,000 commuters 


each year (Heck 1 1 6). She went to Harlem Park every day at 2:30 and 7:30 
in the afternoon (Keister 45). The shortage of labor and war taxes forced the 
owners to tie her up when she was just eighteen years old (Keister 45). The 
"Illinois" was sold to the Excursion Company by the following year and was 
renamed the "City of Rockford" (Heck 116). This steamer sank three times 
and finally burned while tied up at Loves Wood (Barrie; Heck 1 16). 

The Rockford Interurban Railroad benefited financially from Harlem 
Park (Barrie; Bruening "Style"). The railroads often invested in parks so 
people would have a place to go (Barrie; Bruening "Style"). The majority of 
the people that visited Harlem Park arrived by street car (Parker). 

Harlem Park Company had arranged with the city railway to provide 
the transportation ("Hurrah"). The City Railroad extended its line in time, to 
provide transportation to Harlem's Park's grand opening ("Hurrah"). The 
new line went from Harlem Avenue to Douglas Street then to Auburn Street. 
From Auburn Street, the line went down to Cumberland Street onto Brown 
Avenue and ended a few feet from the entrance for Harlem Park ("Hurrah"; 
"Appendix" D2). Years later, an addition to the tracks continued the loop 
from Harlem Boulevard to Harper Avenue then to Cumberland Street 
("Neighborhood"). There were cars arriving at Harlem Park even' fifteen 
minutes (Appendix E4). Philo L. Parker said, "Harlem Park gave the street 


cars a great deal of business. There were schools of street cars going to 
Harlem Park at certain times of the day." 

At the turn of the twentieth century, Rockford Interurban purchased 
Harlem Park (Keister 44; Rockford). From the articles "Popular Harlem 
Park" and "At Harlem Park", a few things may be ascertained. The park 
was in some sort of disarray. The theater had not kept up with the times. 
The new owners assured the public that they were working toward 
remedying the situation ("Popular"; "New Park"). In 1905, new buildings 
were built, old buildings repainted, the disorder eliminated, new attractions 
were added and the theater shown 26 moving pictures a year and brought in 
some top entertainers ("Popular"; "New Park"; "New Harlem"). The grand 
opening was so spectacular; that no one would believe that in a decade the 
park would deteriorate to this fallen condition ("Hurrah"). In 1905, there 
were 12,000 to 15,000 people who attended Harlem Park on opening day 
("Harlem Park's Biggest"). A mammoth search light on a 90 feet tower sent 
its rays out for a mile ("Rockford"). 

The Circle Swings and The Figure Eight roller coaster were as 
popular as the switchback in its earlier years ("Popular"; "New Harlem"). 

Billed as practically a flying machine, the Circle Swing was one of 
the more popular attractions at the St. Louis Expositions ("Rockford"). The 



ride had five swings attached to a high tower (Appendix B6). This quickly 
gained popularity with the park's crowds ("Rockford"). 

The Figure Eight was a new addition in 1905 and added to the 
opening day success ("Figure"; "New Harlem"). Steward Amusement 
Company leased the Figure Eight roller coaster to Harlem Park. It had big 
heavy cars and traversed along a 1,900 feet track ("Popular"; "Appendix B4, 
B6). The ride began from a tall tower and went through a series of dips and 
turns ("Popular"). It was a popular attraction at Coney Island and expected 
to be as popular in Rockford ("Popular"). Mr. Ellis, the manager of the city 
railway, was the person responsible for bringing this ride to Rockford ("New 

June 7, 1921 was a tragic day for the Figure Eight. Grant Graeger of 
Camp Grant was standing up in the roller coaster and was thrown out as the 
car rounded a swift curve. Grant was mangled as he fell under the car and 
dragged down an incline. He died in Rockford Hospital in less than an hour. 
This was only the second accident up to this date. The first happened within 
the roller coaster's first week. The first incident was not fatal. 

Harlem Park had a Laughing Gallery. It was a building with several 
rooms. The Laughing Gallery had over 15 curved mirrors that distorted the 
reflection of a curious onlooker ("Popular"). 



The reader of this paper will be amazed at the number of attractions 
that were located at Harlem Park. Throughout the years the following 
attractions made Harlem Park their home: an auditorium which seated 5,000 
people (it also had a stage that was 50 by 100 feet), a miniature railroad, 
mechanical shooting galleries, bowling alleys, knife boards, balloon rides 
and the list goes on ("Appendix" A 15, B7; Rockford). 

The focus of Harlem Park was family fun. The park never had a 
charge for admissions. Area for picnics was free to the public. Picnicking 
in the park became so popular that the owners of Harlem Park purchased the 
Harlem Park Annex were used for picnics ("Rockford"). This parcel of land 
was across the river and Harlem Park provided a free ride to the annex, using 
the electric ferry ("Rockford"). The 25 acres, which made up the annex, was 
once called Love's Park ("Rockford"). 

The theater with all of the moving pictures and vaudeville acts was 
also free to the public ("Rockford"). Management gave a great deal of 
attention to the theater ("At Harlem Park"; "New Park"; Rockford; "Harlem 
Park to Open"). 

A few days past Harlem Park's thirtieth birthday, Central Park 
Gardens opened ("Central Park Garden's Draw "). One of the main 
headliners was "The Century Jazz Kings", who sign a contract for the entire 


opening season ("Central Park Garden's Draw "). Central park has the 
largest roller coaster in Rockford ("Appendix" E8). Central Park Gardens 
place a full page advertisement in The Morning Star ("Appendix" El). Mike 
Bonham believes that the owner of both Harlem Park and Central Park 
Gardens may have seen the end of Harlem Park approaching. Central Park 
Gardens had a bitter-sweet opening season. There were large crowds 
attending the park regularly ("Park"). The crowds disrupted the 
neighborhoods to the point that Alderman Murphy received a great deal of 
complaints ("Park"). Even with all of the complaints, Central Park was to 
remain open for a long time (Parker). 

Harlem Park closed seven years after the opening of Central Park 
Gardens ("Harlem Park is to Close"; Keister 45; Baie). Looking through the 
papers in 1928 there was no hint that this was to be Harlem Parks last season 
(Appendix D4, D7, D8). Poor attendance and dilapidation of the wood 
structures were reason given concerning the closing of the park (Keister 44). 
It was a business decision that brought Harlem Park to its demise. 

The Rockford Traction Company sold Harlem Park to T. M. Ellis Jr. 
He was going to develop Harlem Park into "exclusive and highly restrictive" 
residential lots ("Harlem Park is to Close"; Keister). He built a restraining 


wall and planned to raise the elevation of the land ("Harlem Park is to 
Close"; Keister 45; Baie). 

This brings us back to today. Remember that small park mentioned in 
the beginning of this essay? The benches located in the small park, have 
concrete markers by them. The names that are preserved for immortality 
are: Barbara Jean Lutz, Don Eugene Hendershott, Rose Mary Hendershott, 
John Michael Joseph Pepe Jr., Mary Patricia Gould, William E. Gould and 
Bob Craig. The name Harlem Park is found nowhere. 

There are few people out in the once bustling area. The only things 
remaining from the original Harlem Park are a short set of tracks on Brown 
Street and two stone pillars on Rock Street that used to mark the entrance 
(Clikeman; "Neighborhood"; Baie). 

The tragic part of this mystery is it is now a greater mystery. Harlem 
Park was a major attraction that affected many aspects of the community. 
Harlem Park helped spur the economy on along with giving people a place 
to relax and have fun. The park had some of the best rides and mam other 
attractions. It once housed the largest building and largest roller coaster. 
Mike Bonham only has one theory regarding why people forgot Harlem 
Park. "The Great Depression" and with Central Park Gardens, doing so 
well; providing some of the similar services that Harlem Park offered. It 




wall and planned to raise the elevation of the land ("Harlem Park is to 
Close"; Keister 45; Baie). 

This brings us back to today. Remember that small park mentioned in 
the beginning of this essay? The benches located in the small park, have 
concrete markers by them. The names that are preserved for immortality 
are: Barbara Jean Lutz, Don Eugene Hendershott, Rose Mary Hendershott, 
John Michael Joseph Pepe Jr., Mary Patricia Gould, William E. Gould and 
Bob Craig. The name Harlem Park is found nowhere. 

There are few people out in the once bustling area. The only things 
remaining from the original Harlem Park are a short set of tracks on Brown 
Street and two stone pillars on Rock Street that used to mark the entrance 
(Clikeman; "Neighborhood"; Baie). 

The tragic part of this mystery is it is now a greater mystery. Harlem 
Park was a major attraction that affected many aspects of the community. 
Harlem Park helped spur the economy on along with giving people a place 
to relax and have fun. The park had some of the best rides and many other 
attractions. It once housed the largest building and largest roller coaster. 
Mike Bonham only has one theory regarding why people forgot Harlem 
Park. "The Great Depression" and with Central Park Gardens, doing so 
well; providing some of the similar services that Harlem Park offered. It 


would be as easy to forget Harlem Park, as it is to forget a former coworker. 
Harlem Park's grave is unmarked and Mike Bonham has no idea why. 
Harlem Park appears to be dead but this may be deceiving. Like 
doctors in the emergency room, a few people are trying to revive Harlem 
Park. The CPR is the written words and occasional pictures that may allow 
the memory of this fallen comrade to be brought back to life. It will be a sad 
day if the efforts of these brave doctors go unnoticed and Harlem Park never 
revived in the apparition of the community's memories and soul in which it 
once reined king. 


"At Harlem Park." The Morning Star . 30 May 1902 Rockford edition: 8. 
Baie, Lyle. Rockford' s Harlem Park The People and the Times. N/A: Lyle 

Baie and John Gile Communications, 1987: No Page Numbers. 
Barrie, Vance. Historian. "History of Rockford Park District." Class 

Lecture for Rock Valley College. Old Post Office, Rockford. 4 

September 2000. 
Bruening, Jeffery. "Amusement park information." E-MAIL to Mike 

Bonham. 4 November 2000. 
Bruening, Jeffery. Historian. "Style and Essay Format." Class Lecture for 

Rock Valley College. Woodward Governor, Loves Park. September 

Campbell, Craig. History of Loves Park, Illinois . Craig Campbell pub, 

1998: 58-59. 
"Central Park Gardens Draw Great Throng." The Rockford Morning Star . 9 

June 1921, Rockford edition: 7. 
"Central Park to Have Dances." The Rockford Register-Gazette . 1 2 

September 1928, Rockford edition: 14. 


"Central Park's Garden to Open With a Parade". The Rockford Register- 
Gazette . 7 June 1921, Rockford edition: 17. 

Clikeman-Miller, Deane. Author/Local Historian. Personal interview at the 
Rockford Public Library. 1 1 October 2000 

"Fall From Park Coaster is Fatal to Camp Soldier." The Rockford Morning 
Star . 7 June 1921, Rockford edition: 2. 

"Figure Eight is Completed." Rockford Republic. 29 May 1905, Rockford 
edition: 5. 

"Harlem Park's Biggest Day." The Rockford Daily Register-Gazette . 5 July 
1905, Rockford edition: 2. 

"Harlem Park is to Close Final Season Sunday." The Rockford Morning 
Star . 7 September 1928, Rockford edition: 18. 

"Harlem Park Dedicated." The Rockford Daily Register-Gazette . 28 May 
1891, Rockford edition: 5. 

"Harlem Park is 'Set' Today for Grand Opening." The Rockford Register- 
Gazette . 24 May 1928, Rockford edition: 13. 

"Harlem Park to Open." Ihe Morning Star . 26 May 1 899, Rockford edition: 

Harlem Park to See Rockford' s Best Swimmers." The Rockford Register- 
Gazette . 25 July 1928, Rockford edition: 13. 






Heck, Robert, "From Canoe to Jet." Sinnissippi Saga . Mendota, Illinois: 

Wayside Press, 1968. Nelson, C. Hal, ed 1 15-1 16. 
"Hurrah for Harlem Park." The Rockford Daily Register-Gazette . 6 May 

1891, Rockford edition: 3. 
Keister, Philip. The Rockford and Interurban Railway. Presented as 

bulletin no. 22 by the Electric Railway Historical Society, N/A: 44-51. 
"Neighborhood Saves Historic Trolley Tracks." Rockfordiana File. 

Historic Homes and Landmarks. 
"New Harlem Park Feature." The Rockford Daily Register-Gazette . 5 July 

1904, Rockford edition: 3. 
"New Park Bill." The Morning Star . 12 June 1904, 

Rockford edition. 
"Park Opening Gives Alderman Busy Evening." The Rockford Register- 
Gazette . 9 June 1921, Rockford edition: 4. 
Parker, Philo. Personal interview in his home. 2 November 2000. 
"Popular Harlem Park." The Morning Star . 28 May 1 905, 

Rockford edition: 7. 
Rockford and Interurban Railway Company. "Harlem Park." Rockford. 

Illinois: N/A, No Page Numbers. 
"A Summers Dream is Harlem Park." The Morning Star . 29 May 1891. 





Rockford edition: No Page. 
"Will be Opened Thursday." The Rock Ford Daily Register-Gazette . 25 May 
1891, Rockford edition: 3. 

Bonham A-l 


Pictures taken from 

Rockford's Harlem Park the People and the Times 

By Lyle Baie 

Bonham A-2 

Steamer Illinois passing under the "High Bridge" 
on its way to Harlem Park. Circa 1913. 

\£ ."} \„,- vV\.< i'^Wv^ 

Steamer Illinois docked at Harlem Park. Circa 1910. 

Bonham A-3 

On the way to Harlem Park during peak summer season. Many trains or 
trolley cars were run to the park from State and Wyman Streets. 

One of the unique, open, double-deck streetcars used to cam 
to Chautauqua Park at Lake Chautauqua. 

y patrons 

Bonham A -4 

Station entrance to Harlem Park on Harlem Boulevard 
between Harper and Brown Avenues. 

Harlem ? ark from Rock River showing Switchback Railway left 
and Electric Carrousel on right. Circa 1907. 

General View of Harlem Park from Rock River. 
Flying Swing Tower in center right. 

Bonham A-5 

tjm '■;:. 

.-.- . . " ».r--^;->; 


.=-'^-:r'*\r**^-. .-*!*** ''■''-> ■- " "-" " 

?>' • ifc^v 

•6 'JCtP* 

,a ***^^ll 

A panoramic view of Harlem Park. The river, Merry-go-round, Giant Swing 

and Switchback Railway on left. The auditorium and Harlem Avenue on the 

right with the hills of Sinnissippi Park in the distance. 

Main entrance to park showing some of the concessions and the midway. 

Bonham A-6 

One of the several fountains that graced the grounds at the park. 
Building on left probably skating palace or dance pavilion. Circa 1911. 

Another view of the Midway looking north - circa 1912. 

The Midway looking east toward the river. 

Bonham A-7 

The Center Walk - circa 1918. 

Two views of the north section of the park which was an ideal spot for 
picnics, hiking, wild flower searching and resting. 

Bonham A-8 

— '.'"is- 


Should leave the City without trying 







Beautiful Shade Trees. Splendid River. 

Steam Merry Go Around. 

- . Sieanur Leaves for Park Every jo Minutes. 
• Ttlhe Harlem Avenue Car at Corner State and Main Streets. 



^S|e * the-Magtuficeni Display of .Fire Workf at Nights 



S- ,. 

- ~ 

Bonham A-9 

First hill on the Giant Dips. Circa 1910. 

Bonham A- 10 


tte wp o/(te ride. Circa 1910 

Bonham A-l 1 

The Old Mill near the river for its water supply. Two wheeled cart in center 
appears to be fire hose cart at the ready. Circa 1910. 

Rockiord, l.L.OU MilU Haric P,r* ^_, ^ _ „V__^£i 

Bonham A- 12 

77re oW /ra7/, a great favorite with the romantics. 

IT ^ 


■ is 




•" '.- 


ffl HI 

"1 1 

*_ " ! . •> L . 5" **■ ROCS 




i ft 1 • «• 


* * * ■ 

. • ■ •" . — 7v\-:«»'C>. -** v ' t 

-. ,_ .•-_■• rSrr " 


77i£ auditorium at Harlem Park. 

Bonham A-13 

Two views of the auditorium seating capacity 5,000. Site of lectures, 
band concerts, vaudeville, and public meetings. - Circa 1911 

Bonham A-14 

Figure Eight Station 

Laughing Gallery or Fun House 

Bonham A-15 

One of the novelty cards of the era of 1910. 


Pictures taken from 
Harlem Park 
By Rockford and Interurban Railway Company 

Bonham B-2 


s OR I'll l- s l> I1KIIM .1 NKAIt II AH l.l.N H \U1\ 

Bonham B-3 



Bonham B-4 



Bonham B-5 



Bonham B-6 



Bonham B-7 



Bonham B-8 



Bonham C-l 


Pictures taken from 

The Rockford and Interuban Railway 

By Phillip Kiester 

Bonham C-2 

Tlie old paddle wheel steamer Illinois at the public library landing. 

p. 45 


The bl 

ind side of single end 337. Taken at Harlem Park about 1912. 

p. 50 

Bonham C-3 

The jailers behind the 337 are ex-Chicago Cable trailers 

p. 51 


WP An open bench car at Harlem Park in 
1902. Wm. Poole is the motorman. 

p. 51 

Bonham D-l 


All pictures and advertisements taken from 

The Rockford Register-Gazette 




















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"■"i/l!f :} 

Bonham D-3 


For Further 'Attractions for 



[r ':- 



» Open !nr liii«jneS4 every »l.iy 

■ i 

from . n m, :n : i ;» m. 

■• ILnitl Qnn*'orr Kn»l;i\" '*2v«-faiiH 


July 25, 1391 

Harlem Park 

Will Open 


The Finest Dance Floor in the SLat* 

Kayser's Orchestra 

The Best Music Money Can Hire. 
Nr» Ii^htin* System New Puking Ptace 

a Road Repaired 

Band Concert 

Sunday and Monday 
P!enry_of_Tables for_F1rnie_Partie3 

Come Out and Stay All Day on the banks of 

GRAffD OPENING May 30, '92. 

Th(e Harlem Park Company 

Takr tf»' pltajure ;n moi.iinc'.m 10 iht i«ib.!cn*ir 


Memorial Day. 

Tli' company 3»v» \—rn In vrr-tl i-tprnt* n rrmmli-linii »n.| i ... irv'U I ).<">' Itr«>ri 
fi.r ihnr !.ilrj>m ot KiVkfnni »n'l viciuiiy. Tli-» Wm ••curnl many uttaciluni fur 
ihe.eocnn.i: vte»..n. Th« iiprntnc a'.lrarr.on "ill '*' in 1 """ l»" 'nt-*itiinc n f 
IlKkfc.r.t l»[ 
tn iiaiti li» p 
,'lwi to '»in: 
.-ruilj In i lie mili.ic 


m.inv ni-w mint m.i oilier «\»t'. »'.!!> i tli*e li»,vi- in-v.-r 'ji-'i pf-tuni.-l ;n 

■r-.. In llm liiru I e-innin-l'.inii !■«» hr ■..■rvr.! ".-.nil W i 

m J nil ih« !ii til «■•►»( llin »-»j"in» :» f«fl'"l -v r ' >' »it"iii'.i"i »uM>. 
Irt.i Thi- «ruve !i:il b«n •■•1'iipi"" 1 wllh l*'*'"* '" r m<= ! i ;■»"'• 'f'" 

Tlic- Switch Back, Rail 3oad 

W.:: cnnttim- ■... iW.-iiit ill :..rmrr j.airi.m-. TV- '■ >m|-inv «'nr- •! Ii'uc 'li«l 

(h'v'wl'.l ii«»k'- ihrtr l:-»nri » cr-.l;t Mil.* civ .if i: .cn'Jnl. Armntfi ;m '">"•• 

\v*n <Mii.inmin»U!<1 wiiti tli- .-Mr--l U»i;**y .!'"■•> '" r ''••• ir*n»|-.rl:>ii.>n ■>( .v.-r 
l.n.l imminent. TVy lniv- »;-.-i »rr . .._-— i 'or ; lie M'.im-f ,\rr : .« i.i -ink* irlin vi--y 

hmM r ••nilhe nwr l-i ami in- pail. P—uWi-'.v i|.i Mn-eMnil Irsiiui K,i't 

in ihp. |H.rt. j . A. II. I'HA'IT. 

May 26, 1892 

■hr / A ' / 

neiy 01 low t/ioei and iJippcri. 


!^ The Managsnienf of Hkriem Park 


May 27, 1921 

Will be pleased to make dates/with 
churches, societies, lodges or other organ 
nizations for picnic parties at the pari, 
also with parties desiring, private Ger^ 
mans. We will supply the orchestra 
or not as may be: desired. ■'. 
.Address-' A, K.'PLATT,' 

Manager Harlem Park Co. 

f . ■• . . 

June 1892 

Bonham D-4 



a MiMut 
.ftmm sue: st. 


^'RocWom'jifllTBnlEtf- BglTt-Oyf s - Bagtnnfaig-Sat.-Juna -3- 



JL.--._lj LsanJiQ '™* Sac adiile Tudca^. 

Rrrting- a 'finir'Ti l n-B' . rnrifnlric'HrPjffy-.— ■ 

The limit of scn^ationali."™— nnactiuil flirt •with donrtT" 



and -a "1 FEilUflES 


,/o</i f/itf Merry Crowd on "Fribble Lan o" ■ 

NeTr$5,000 3all Room— "Oh You Gliders!" 

COMINO— M«a« ScqmnlAg .um 11 — OA«C 3tVIL 3lU_. 


June 3, 1911 


THEATER i .<•* i»lt. 

'A f»n i , .mm* mi «■ J^i . 

j-<auo, i«vin_4 :asao.-! 

- * i .i ■..■«- -■ .t ,t — ^.t .|.., 1<1W u'Ui 

J-MUSlCAL lOONi — | 
CUCAT _ftU UNO - - 

^OCOLONC --• UV»f Ml 

r>.iurtnc .: r*av 



Sorni. mur t»»om<» it :n» Moirlns | 

'■ IT lj t ■ <„ " I II11 W . " i JU i M i Jt i ' U > 1 
due !a *"f» rwp*«-t. A n »d ucat! on. ! 

June 3, 1911 


timtf 1 7 ~iir 



_!. /...,;_ JOLLEl sKATlMfe- LA.J 



Central Park 




June 23, 1928 


' " PACE CgBfTT 

- — THE'TOCKTDRD , ^tClS^^^t-^;AZJ!.lfl."rWPAT.•3^AT^^..lag.^ , ^- — —- 

— ; ., , " — rr :ZjiHOREADB>.iunL! Read And Use&egiste 

fhotopIays—VandeviHe— btage -||-, SA y S BRAKEMANI T" 1 


tops v;c£ s/zx r« 


Pinks > AJUWooi SuiU 


■on — ... >m».| LILLIAN j 

:i5 S& Mu 5l «■ — - ~-~ -"«- "— — 1 


- I. 



"Out of the 

^r SPECIAL notice 


M r — •—* »'• » KUth 

CENTRAL, ifti 

PARK lip©'* 

gardens; iit^- 

rxniE REvtEiv 



LatnwX Sunday 


In I*emon 
Sm All— Know* All 


-WlirOpen i |ftif^ 

Elaborate Plans 

Being Made For 


Watcji For 

mMm INGLATERRAt^-^lfeSSil^ 

^. — ..-«. -v.. j. -■-Tii- | ^^ "^ 7^ I And Tomorrow >■— — — u.. — -i »v -r- »- i 

S^r — " "ZT_ — ' Closes Tonight ^p^" r "^H ~ ■>-"• — "'-»- ' -—* 

g ^r^ -^ J „ — -^ i r rari&h ^jggH jE 

?uio. Maitwr o.p.rt- Rag - A - Wyle New 




Qu^h Pinjco Gotl'iof 
Store. I'.S So. S(. 

V Greatest of aJf [ "- - ~ 

K 'Western £ cr*ro*tm=ti 

jfc^v Player* flff S--~ *~ —"-A —-I-- 

pec My Lawyer' 


T. Roy Barne s 

TZTTtrtrTrm" mmcuyi nrn nmin 


_rsi- .loqjo bd •\xcvJTzsu:AzsrrTs^rmrRSD\r'. r risyrr' , ,iSTttir 

Bonham D-6 

iiZ" • Photoplays— yandeville— Stage 


A. Irieivi 
rould do you no rreacer '.*" ~ 

^"^00^5 St I" ■" 

Vouih-Glana ^zzskz ferl^ 

JThcv. ,-ou. ^o r-ot^'seL,.. ■ . — i ■ m. 
•<our 'C'.d Seif 
'»<C.'.*"""""*"'^ ac , 

■UQcackm ind rrr ^£3 
1 ihort -rearmcnc with -J". 



- — — ~ I AfW TtcM erf ThiM W««k 

1 n<-y 

Rebuild, Rr^woiaee 

ind AeguUte. 

* a* r" are 
^ = -"V<" or "Vemait* 






kt/al 1 

1*4 X« JO 


'•CLOWN" - 

A Vmlf 


_ Na.. fair. 

JanesTille - Wisconsin 


Foaatircjy ika Larrca* 

Clraa » ifta-Wara) 
■ ^- — <i?»a*a; a 
TDidT Strut J*mr»J«. 

■8 I ULI ! pu 

!| HarlemzParK 

Cenial Park Gardens 

- T.rr t i ' u 1 tot n» Io « tyOTDT — 

t«-< 0/ iki ^ui, SWa. T»«i-iiJl«» Rid™ 

Aaal T«D Wl>w 

Elaine ~ 1 

Hairtmer3tein I 

Tttc miract_e 
of hamiatta.v 


Taadffet Tamamrw 
1 - Atiri'T 

— Breezy Bit* oH 921= 

Darara *Vh*ra Ihaj Caoi Bi-rasaai Blow. 

"Century Jazz Kings" 

T» I mi, wn» ». Pa*. 
ADumruoM rais ■ ai 5>T ArroufOONa.- 

«*"»"»»» T*»l» € I ITir. la ItarWar* Tk,r. ial Taaaa Ha« D»T»— TV»1» «a° S 
^■w^« far rlraar- Pmntaa. 

Rockford's Moat Beautiful Open Air Dancing Pavilion .. 

Al Uaaa Cc tfl I a'dacK. . . __ 

r £trart rm a» T» I I ~ Pro 3a> U fSrt. 

^Joe^Kayaer^a-W^rvd ci - f urO r eh^aU a " - 

every Thursday, Friday and Saturday — 
~ ~ Entire - Season . — ~" ~ 

1t» v t 3«J '«i>u. . --«,.. — gaafa fa* .Ipraiai— Cm »M aaal 4aa w TWa. 

Adequate Street Car Service _ ".:..• 

__ / . Ride_The:BIue Streak 

TV. .uua *■ -.u a> ika Ci m i a aa Katar ifca Hm-r 'a> a I — < naa aa. 

**Bl 3*aUaf.~At!rraaaa <aa V I ( h UL ITaTt <a< J>»»" 'a ~TW»>aav — 
_> ADM13SI0V TO P\RK mtr. - 

^aav UA«n c 

r«E Tocxmno ^gnTTrwui»y.cnT. 3attjrpat, ;unb a. :m. 

Bonham D-7 


"The-Drag Net"- at Coronado Sunday-Singing Cadets 'HeaddB,^5f| 


Rockford Couple to 3e M.nied on I MIDWAY BOOKS! 

rf r- 

PORTRAYED IN ^^^f^'COMETO PALACE: ^"^°^ v ^^- N; ^^ MERRY'W100r h MIDWJi 




Central Park 





Jm'tl Hurl Th«M oa th« IU4U 


9*mh£um Cincuil. n frrr.riri. 

RETTZ BAND AT »~o «nr ittruar auoro»<.^-<5 

TAMPA GARDENS n.»»»srimi. »»» .omi^ktabm: 

WZR WEEK - END "■'■'- :ic --"■ •- ;l * •".— '■** -":■" :* 


' nooN 

IK •HKtli 





Tomorrow "0\ 


$k\V STORM" 

5ajhme.I1 Dolore/ Del Rio3™ 



~,f& ^.COHENS 





Bonham D-8 



~j LEA0-PSLACE'S-E%25^v§ ; HAS-MENJQU IN ^ 3— - — 

' FllN CARNIVAL "-'"'"""'"'*"" ■ iciniMP oni r.^:j:rr.r_.L , ' , ^!_^ 

Hum r»«i. wraiam CaiSar. J a., 
rM»« >|1, UH|U« Jan .««i 
cu«aa <i»«, 

L*» •< IHar." »«» uwi 


IT CMHM, .— ^ *a«a.. | f»a|l IVH Kill P!«II««>»HHHM1*«M«.| 

H wHH rr m »»-*r*, J • ■ 

_ ' ntt«*rvtf ji T*a .laaaa* **«*.' 

_ in* P»U**« r:m yMiHur •** I . - I *w>N « rw rw » mmmi iti 

Vr.. * .mmiu, Nttmmn .ci °" Sunday Bill 

!% il«AC -43 >at*nai**t* '«!•■ 

VMM .fa «•"*•* » Iff»l .*▼* ITt»tl 
31* ::«■ i«4 rill *■■■■— I !■■>■■ •>•«* WW nlA.'ni ****i • ' I '<» ^M Uanlau. »*rU • -n«a 

flaw* r»fi«*ra*" »f *-avida-*ita. *tu| l»«*r» artl**** (*»*fv*a* taw* r*iii* I P«f»»j 

j^ 3tar«-of-3iII- 

-av ' am** at '*• ?aiave* "iaat#r SaVM-*. r»»-r»at«a ft •ngn-lt4 »ar »•*«•♦*•* i Ma 'erw«-«e4 jraaa iwM • hi*' 

. "» :t— j *..[---•• * "Carnival aCtait-fl r*Mlt*a.!iifn «ntl( a cat*. T>ai Laia>a< .•erri-tv vatticla, " *. NI|M 

■ SX . y-q B -r»»«. ' *f«rr • »*• '*•» :a*J<4 >»9P»n-=" •< ™S rvet •r T 7^ wklrH «»•*• at 'ha 
£J ' N'MKlac 

an* ;*!"•» 
E1H1 Ar 

nr iar. 

**•*■ aer 

'9* i •-. . - -. or • - • . 
!auj "aW "*•« i*4 .'1 s '• iflrvrT>*r 
I at* ■■ -r.a*T act. Tb»r r«Mrt**iU ivippomr-c ills* C» 
: ail *»rta a<--ap*ra. tavtMna? *hal( — 

•h,tr\ MONTE BLUE Au -+ 

■*•**■! ftajriraaua ar i 

' film rn**f*r ^w*day for a \tn 
id. i d,r ■"■■ajtaiwmi. 

iMHaatf, ih* Mar «**ra a arar- 

:•« 4r»r*rM «r <h« Pr«ncH»Afnr«ii 

^..niuavun «n4 !n , an* at In* 
It Sahara 

HA! HA! 

■bailk«r «a«.f.n« MnM sr /.y ^4/^? THRILJ~ZJi' " A Nl « ht •» MrMwr" • »«•«• 

l» iJ ^^_^ • »^ Tom '.'let«rt«w larlm Frvnrn 










AmcR>oo?» .uo sin 


To th« SraeovaUac Mo«i« ot»UU__ 


OF LOS ANGStSS "~.-n -^"T" 


Bm 3«mc« 2r«rr IS Mlngtaa ?nm SUU t>4 Chudl 
-Strwu Dlr»et t« lh« P»rt__ __I 


iy T999. Turn ^IM>«n*« cinrU 

I man* Hum » flit *l Ilia "or '- 
* IK* tllr. ««4 t la not . -. .rdlMjrl THE OXI.V O^E. 

krr »nh«r. ^)«t & i»ndi«m«irl "X r*e« Itaaa." Mi4 'Jneta E*s*n. 
||M . utrntlM t»4_ncnly ;i*nal ■•«- ^"roaa »» la da Maala *a 
1 •«! T 


Ma uul r-> a«B 

"oamrart. balK 1 da «i«1t ana i*i 

i . iun [hlfiaV — 4'4aA1nrt*a luj 

•ixl MOUT 


I »T! 

.•Iar. I 
laa i 




9a Oh 

Colonial 7.-5 

of Lot Angeles. 

Tl_l la a !taai SUB CUas 


Sunday tad Monday ~ 


"Across The Atlaaric" 


edna urarar 


GrrauLod Sloa J^er-iiat 
and Camtdy 


«rtlB ZOafC^O MWt 



G A R D E-N S 




iNct iiiumis'ci'i i/i rifria r/i>,v:.,.- v 


IMND EVril (At'TUHKO «%, 

ANDt.XHIUirFI) Al.lVC j'.'i 

"T rrt r ZS - w '■ "'■ 5 "il lauia ■ aSSmS II— 
ADULTS 75CZMT* , CHtLD/ttM Itmuii YIAB.SOajm. — - 
zm**o irAno icatx mcmoi** ,/toMii-uoM hjo 7© ^»ii 

I Vtamwan Tlrl fX (H Hha (Clnaa llarl a* 

HjaaaaTirK(*Cas iirVaank Mala luaat 


Lat Joy 3a Unnflned '■ ^- • -*•• 


3e« the ihow that haa all Raekford whlaperiii« 
The show that holda 1.000 people tpeU-boond-^ 

froBvetart to-dntah- . — '~ 

—The jreaieit »rereeatlon"of Biautlfal'GIrli ~~ 

'thia aaaaoa-7. •• ■•■-■.-_•; w>i-»-j> 

The faateat enfartaimneat erer coocefred^"" 

by the mind of nan -. .li>r-.*> :: .-'" 


and Eyerr Saturdays at IT o'clock iartha ;■ r 





• • —•-'■- • Slue ■' '•• 



Tomorrow only Monday 

)®lg@Ma?@» B iF« , *£® 

and >n irj!> 


a ramuici lhat 

1 ' 

v/tdolphe v 


ft. " A ^ r**& 




■ B>*m a 


■■■» BRiiNT 


ADOLPHE^MENJOU.—TOTwte— 3-Day«r8tartlnr 

Bonham E-l 


All pictures were taken from 

The Rockford Morning 

Bonham E-2 

■ ■ArfiHiNt; <; \LLEKX 

May 28, 1905 

PAVILION \M) r.r.I'IlKNIIMl'.NT I". <><>M. 

May 28, 1905 

Bonham E-3 



May 28, 1905 


May 29, 1891 


Bonham E-4 

Open to Ml pnblle 
now tommoriiM 
♦ tiiimgbt. - 

The Famous Switchback Railway is now in lull operation. 

No visitor to RocUord should fail to try Ms most • xhilirat ng amusement. J 

Tate Harlem Park Car. Cars run every 15 minut's 

June 3, 1891 

Bonham E-5 


On these hit evening there is no cooler aor more inritln? place than 


You can set there on the electric can in fifteen m oaten, or yon can enjoy 
a river ride to the parr on -the tteaaiAr. Gniad Fourth of July celebration — 
hundreds of dollars worth oi dre worss at niirht. Splendid exhibition. 

Advertisements from June 1891 


'\\l SIMTOP 

Commencing at 7:30, — 

m 'tit'.c=i-Cart..'ica 

,n,| " (1 i»th rvi-nlnil 

',,.., f ..nrr '■> ■>• -MII.UV-. C| 

MRLjl ";PlEL 

,n.l .111 m«»c» run ffrrrr 
i til r»i*» lo (forth* 

.., .„r .if '""' : f '« t 1 ""' "'"" ,- * H *' " mr * " r 
tfci-l.irk • 

Electric Street Cars every 15 minutes, accom- 
modatin g ever y one. ' . = , 

i Allow runs every 30 .minutes. -_J^ 

; Coma and have a good timo. " 

Bonham E-6 

^-GMHrOPEMNGrHAr30ri892r : " 

The ilixism ?vt Corapaay-take pieaenre in joooonciog to tie ipabllc of 
their jraad opening on Memorial Day._The fon ip u T ttiTt-o wu bafry a at W 
:«na la remodeiinj tad enlarging '.hair reeort for tbeir patron* of Hociford- 
and Ttctaity; they hare aecored many attractlona for tha coming 
openin g ft! Tea ot the Rockfortl_MU i**rT JBlBit- 


"BBfM* eoioeaaa otner rpacudUea taat Sari naVar oeaa preaeatad la 3oea> 

.'ord before. - _ . _ 

— la taa targe~iad ■ommodlom pan Hon -nil be serred from. 10 a. ai—aaOl-lO— 

•arm. all tha Inxuriea of the aaaaoa a la carta. Special attention- will ba jtraa 
(a CaaaUlaa, Tha grore baa baaa equipped with tablea for loach pardaa frea 
Ziatla to tha public. Tha ■wttcb-beck railroad will continue to delight lta " 
former patroaa. Tha company aeauree tba public that they Till maxe tha' 
reeort a credit to tha city of Rockford. -irransomeote oare baaa conau mated 
▼ith tha itreet railway '.mar for traoaportatioo of orerland piieaaara. They- 
bare alao arraaged for tba itaamer Arrow to make trip* erery ba^f boar oa tha 
-T»r to and from tba park.. 

Pnmtiraly nn LatOXJClttag Arintu mnlA in th« park. — , 

A. H. Pi-itt, Manager. 


laaciaj Arr.a*w— ata far aae.atlea. 

ot Holiday Vlaitarm. __\ 

Owlas to tba cool weatberof the »*«* 
inn attendance at Harlem Park and te- 
ller baa not beenaa l*rga aa It ibould 
-aa»e 'Jeeai Wth milder weetber in* 
probablUUea are that the theater will be 
filled each e-renlng. aa tba Barlow mln- 
itrela are offering »« unuaually eltrec- 
Uva entertainment. 

11 baa taken the people a few-daya to 

■nHenfiri ' h,> tteoM atdexai tnfnn 

at- Harlem par* baa paaeed away aad 
I that '.be reaort '.■ now aa eminently re- 
■aceUBla m M»y theater la the wintry. 
Tali la alowly becoming appreclatedand 
tie audience Iaalnlght.whllaamaU L — 

3p«lal arrangementa are being made 
at UM park for tba entertainment of tbe 

Memorial lay_cro wda. T hera will be 
both a matinee and aa eTenlag perform- 
ance. ■ - 

May 30, 1902 

May 31, 1392 

\ HarlemlEaiM 

[ Theatre. \ 

— — -•♦ 


\ ■ Week. | 

♦ • ♦ 

♦ ♦ 

: R'ncuLAR prices^: 


Aug 24, 1899 



^TtxnrxsrrritvcT tohik'TSkT 


— scnmvistos 

HarU-m ?ar*. '"r 39 yr*r* <h- 
otaL known -imu«-^ i- n t ZS£SXi — 3- 
-ToHH>7fT~'.lllno>* i7iiv-i«- "« Chi. 
•IE", will ?.<" !>*• l'l»"."TT "" 
' vff K vh»o the riJ'"U.I» irai-t ;,■, 
■iraiM '.o -i.,.k» way ..'or 4 nr.v 

■tiS|r>t:ite »ul>dlvisiun. : 

L - n. ErclniL-. :'r«'ni (Tp^ml..!- 

,ii ■ t- -n." "t :>;- 

r-nirnl ••••'rK wlurli 

■.( iv 

if -he !':ir'K. >v 

^liilpniom to 

.vill "i>'" Monday ?••<■ 

vf»io. Tli" rnn:iinlii= -|iii|.ni-ni. 

,urh 4» Hie rullcr cmisicr ^.n.i dance 
mv.llnn. will !■« -'-' ""•' ,vll,,i " 

, rcw «■-»■«» v t».« ••' .lrwlu«T» 
v.II Li. laklns'wll ' r ""' ,h " " f> "" ,M 
.f i:o.-U riN-r i.i f'lt m I lie i»« 
n ...lS In Mir !..iru. 

Th- |.arl:. * '"• " : ' - , "" " v n " ! 

... T M. I:-'-. Jl - ! ' "■ ( '"' 

,,, ir:i.-» .it mM-Mrte :„..p.— v 

,,ninlil« !••<• r— T'-" i" 

.„„ ci.v !!mua; M'- ''•'"* :"" nl - 
,,,,_ ]i- pinna m Inipmve it «« 
Uvl'Ie It Ini" I-"-'" : '• , • , r,,r ,n " , ' 
|„.,v» :.n'l Ill-Ill}-, ""•'irirtr.l r-l- 
l-mlal .<"-'.i«M. 
i;iiu:ia» «i-i-jred prrmuaion from 
virnwHil :n lnulil 
mil .lr—1:;- ! I" 1 

. , 1. 1- fiiiinu w«i :< ; 

i .:..nn ilurlns III" 

„.| .„,„- «p~- 'Mil 

,.;.• «iai<". •"' 
i r-iaii""- 
-K»r. fnn 
ilr-a<1y h»» 




- -n»m flb«vc tilt Mt=ri Tmt-r -"-"■•< . 
' • Th- ir.i«- Ml! !•• ■i>'i.!-l Inm t" 


M Sftlr. 

- KHi» 

.-f.,r — 


.. ;. , i k from 

i il v Tn' 

,-ir « 

1. II !i<" '•" 
Mi.l 111!' ' 

i.-lii 1 Hu- 
ll I-.IM lllH —. 

II. ill. 

iii [..irk 'i. 

- i..--n .-i <•[ 

Sept 7, 1928 

, niy v »xsrdiP''MO!Qn?fO'gi'A^ ; ^ tuwaiu'f. 1 -nnft-**Twi.- 3 

Bonham E-7 

— ,- i irn^vimTwr. 

: --.-OPENS— ~T 


: A Festival of Joy and_Amusement— Refined Dancing — Guy Mii3ic«-and Thrillin g Rides = _ 
Built on Rockford Money — Lr-^-r— " ~ - W ""'" -~Owned by Rockford-People 



Admission. J 







HBaBfesr . — ~ 





A Riot in Refined Vaudeville— Pretty Girls— Catchy Songs and Real Star3 

RlDE-THEr 2 m-RH7fcRR' J 


, THAT . 


j tiie thriller" 

Satisfies that dentrc for 
■peed. A mile ride filled with 
thrilli and laughter, Safest 
--Coaiter-ln the world— Can — 
locked to track- 

Sea Plane 

E*ery inwiln-i nt • hydr«- 

>U w ih» kmm ■ >•<■ fail of th« 

New Whip and 
Go~ Round 
Ready June 15 

"Lola, the 

TS« ^r»t«r» "f *««r f»- 
jr» .Vl''iw 3*for« 'lof 




\ bit '««c ~rho»>-rho»* rd< 
thai hi «ur r n ■■!■ <• ehti 
drrn aul fr»«n-upa t» ««i. 

77ie Kandy 

•U«U> »• 

Mir* o< 



Trio Briahteit Spot 
In Rockford 


K rmUttba in ih« tirtttfth 
*** uill of ktbictw fwituini. 

■±m idnnuiM >( ?*t-as*t*i 


In the Great Open Air 


Canopied by the slcy at night 
_ An All-weather roof for 
afternoon dancing 

A Danca 'Floor Unexcelled 

An Orchestra Unsurpassed 

Uniformed Attendant! 


Come! Spend the Day, Bring the Entire Family! 
Dance to the Music of the Famous "Century Jazz Kings!" 


-' The All-Rockford Company for Reflned Outdoor Araoiement 

I Join the 3ttr Parade Tonight it 7 o'cloeic^'FoBrtcenth-ATenna and SeTenth Street ] 

Come By Motor! Come By Trolley! ((. 


Bonham E-8 

The Largest Giant Coaster in-the-Xerthwest which will be in operation at CENTRAL PARR Tonight 

Advertisement June 5, 1921 

Bonham F-l 


Postcards received from 
Philo L. Parker 

Bonham F-2 


/ >,<u 


r «is sice -or 7V.5 *oo 








Bonham F- 


#■&£' * 

Bonham G-l 


All pictures are taken from 

Sinnissippi Saga 

Compiled and Edited by C. Hall Nelson 

Bonham G-2 

O %>;;?. -3- 

Steamboat Illinois docked at Rockford Public Library 

o. 92 

Bonham G-3 

ABOVE: Members of the Rockford Boat Club 
used the decks of the rrverboat (left) as a viewing 
stand during the club's annual conoe races on 
the Rock River in the early 1900s. 


Winds of Change 
A History of the Ida Public Library 

Heather Sorenson 


Rock Valley College 

Ida Fuller Hovey 

Ida Public Library 





Heather Sorenson Sorenson-1 

English 101 


Winds of Change 

It is said, the only thing that stays the same is change itself. Most people, in general, 
are resistant to change. Some changes in life are uncontrollable, whether it is the changing 
of seasons or the relentless cruelty of "Father Time", fading brown hair to gray, tight skin 
to wrinkles, and what were once clear intelligent minds to somewhat fuzzy forgetful ones. 
Although these changes are uncontrollable, they are manageable. To change and grow 
with these changes is the only control there is. Over the past 106 years, the Ida Public 
Library has done just that, grown and changed with the changing community around her. 

In the fall of 1883, General Allen C. Fuller insured the remembrance of his daughter, 
Ida (Fuller) Hovey, with his gift of $5000 to the city of Belvidere to establish a free public 
library (Knutson and Newcomer 1). This money came from a father's deep love and 
perhaps deep depression at his daughter's untimely death at the age of 24, after her many 
months of battle with tuberculosis (Knutson and Newcomer 1). The library was to forever 
bear his daughter's name and be placed in a suitable location for the people of Belvidere. 
The city accepted his gift and the following year the Ida Public Library was established in 
the City Hall. 

As the usage of the library grew over the years it began to have a problem with a 
shortage of space. In December of 1897, the Library Council asked the city for an addition 
of a third floor to be built on to the City Hall (Knutson and Newcomer 1 9). This would 
allow the library the use of the entire second floor, instead of just the corner of it they 


used at the time. With the turn of the century, the city approved the addition, but in 1905 
there was still no addition (Knutson and Newcomer 20). 

With hopes of the addition to City Hall faltering, in 1909 the Library Council elected a 
committee to enlist the help of Andrew Carnegie (Knutson and Newcomer 20) , a 
Scottish- born philanthropist, who donated more than 56 million dollars for free public 
libraries all over the English speaking world between 1889-1923. There are 83 Carnegie 
libraries in Illinois alone (Bial and Bial Forward). A year later, the city obtained an offer 
from Carnegie granting $17,500 to erect a free public library for the people of Belvidere. 
The city only needed to find a convenient location for the building and purchase it 
(Knutson and Newcomer 20). 

The Library Committee went to work finding a location. When they found what they 
believed to be a suitable site, they proposed their findings to the City Council. The City 
Council rejected this proposal twice, perhaps because of the $3000 cost (Knutson and 
Newcomer 21). The site, which had a frontage of about 100 feet onN. State St. and 
Madison St., was land from Bassett property and Rice property (Knutson and Newcomer 
20). After the rejections from the City Council, the people of Belvidere joined together 
and donated the funds to purchase this land (Knutson and Newcomer 21). 

The construction of the building and the moving of the books were the next hurdles to 
overcome. In 1912, while the world was in shock at the sinking of the Titanic, the number 
of books in the library was up to 16,244. It was at this time that the Dewey Decimal 


Classification System was invented. Also at this time, the long-time librarian, Mary 
Crandalf retired from her position. The assistant librarian, Elizabeth Ballard, took over the 
position of librarian and had the task of serializing all the books to the new Dewey System 
and organizing the books to be moved. It was not until 1919 that Miss Ballard announced, 
at a Library Council meeting, her completion of cataloging the books according to the 
Dewey System, taking her more than five years work (Knutson and Newcomer 21). 

The City Council hired Architect Grant C. Miller of Chicago to design the building for 
the sum of $1000. The contractor, Calvin O. Lewis of Belvidere, was paid $12,567 for his 
construction, and the masonry work was done by S. E. Griffeth. H. G. Goldham did the 
red tile roof, a Carnegie tradition, for the price of $l,145(Knutson and Newcomer 21). 

The library construction was complete in February 1913. It had a convenient location 
close to downtown. Even today, the two-story, reddish-black brick building, located at 
320 N State St., in itself, gives this author a feeling of calm just gazing at it. Its many 
windows, towering to the sky with their grandness, spilled warming light onto the readers 
within. On moving day, the people of Belvidere gathered to volunteer their time to move 
the books the three blocks to their new home (Knutson and Newcomer 21). 

Opening Day, February 12, 1913, was a celebration for the entire town. In the 
afternoon there was an open house so all could walk through and view the stylish interior 
of the building. The library had magnificent eight-foot wide archways. Large, very high 

windows with lovely green and yellow stained glass above, giving the strong feel of 
holiness to the room. A portrait of Ida was hung for all to see and remember the young 
woman who. in part, made it all possible. Speeches were given at the evening dedication. 
Mayor R. W. Mclnnes expressed in his speech the hope "the citizens of Belvidere will 
always strive to make abundant use of this building, a library is a necessity today in any 
city of any size." Irving Terwilleger, the main speaker, referred to the library as a "diary of 
the human race" and as "college of the common people" (Knutson and Newcomer 22). 

During the following year the library use grew richly. Many community groups held 
meetings in the much-needed space that the new building provided. Circulation was up to 
25,598 in the 1st year after the opening (Knutson and Newcomer 23). 

The growth continued with next few decades and, in 1939, during a national economic 
boom in industrial production due to WWII (Wetterau 156), the library held its first 
Juvenile Reading Project. The project was very popular with 176 children attending. By 
1950, approximately 1,400 school-age children visited the library with their classes during 
the three autumn months (Knutson and Newcomer 26-27). 

Circulation for the library was steadily increasing and in 1955-1956 it was up to 
44,041 (Knutson and Newcomer 27). With the circulation up, space was short for books in 
the library. The lower level of the library, in 1967, was only being used with a small public 
toilet, the furnace room, and a dark unused room filled with clutter from the past fifty 
years. The idea to create a children's section in the lower level was just what the library 


needed to give more space in the upper section and provide a place that the children of 
Belvidere could call their own (Knutson and Newcomer 30). 

By January 1 969, the same year American troops started withdrawing from Vietnam, 
the Children's Room in the lower level was fully operational. The room was painted a 
sunny gold with gold tweed carpet and the furnishings were a light blonde. A Rockford 
newspaper reporter described the room as being "like a bright new coin"' (Knutson and 
Newcomer 30). The room today looks a little different, with bluish green carpet and beige 
walls. The bookshelves are shorter here than in the rest of the library. With the murals of 
children and books painted on the walls above the bookshelves, there is youthfulness 
about the room. Currently, this room offers Preschool Story Time three days a week and 
is still holding the Juvenile Reading Program that started in 1939. Pat Walter, 
Children's Librarian, recalls over 507 children signing up for this program in 1999 (Walter 

Innovation came with the changing winds. In the early 1 960s, the manual checkout 
system of the library was replaced by Electronic Mechanical Checkout, by a new device 
called a Charging Machine. This greatly modernized operations of the library (Knutson 
and Newcomer 27). Another popular new device was installed in the library in 1975, a 
copy machine (Knutson and Newcomer 30) . Librarian Marty O'Brien has been working 
for the library since 1979 and recalls the price of using the copy machine in 1979 was ten 
cents per copy, compared to today's, fifteen cents per copy (O'Brien interview). Not a big 


In the 1970s and 1980s the United States was in the midst of an energy crisis, due in 
part to high government spending and a monstrous increase in oil prices (Wetterau 156). 
The price of oil went from $12-$ 13 per barrel to $30-$35 per barrel (Leone and Smith 
19). In an effort to make the library more energy efficient, 74 double-paned storm 
windows and four ceiling fans were installed (Knutson and Newcomer 3 1 ). 

By the mid 1980s, the library not only offered books to its patrons but also films, art 
reproductions, recordings, and videos. With the added services, the library was in need of 
additional parking spaces. In 1982, the purchase of the lot west of the library provided 
this space for additional parking (Knutson and Newcomer 3 1 ). Circulation was at an 
amazing 101,084 in 1986-87, up 9,381 from the prior year (Knutson and Newcomer 47). 

Probably the most significant change for the library came in 1985. A Belvidere 
referendum was passed to improve the existing library and construct an addition of 1 0,000 
square feet. The referendum allowed $1,280,000 in funds for this project. Also, a 
government program called Build Illinois granted Belvidere $250,000 for the same 
improvements (Knutson and Newcomer 36). The grant from the government seemed quite 
a shock since the United States, in the middle of an economic crisis, had the highest debt 
in the world (Wetterau 156). 

Once again the Library Council hired the companies needed for the building of the 
addition. They hired Rose-Orr Corporation from Beloit WI, with Noble Rose as the 


architect (Knutson and Newcomer 34). The contractor, J. W. Ericson, was from Loves 
Park (Knutson and Newcomer 40). 

The groundbreaking ceremonies were held on July 1 1, 1985 and construction began. 
The council did a good job of picking the bricks to best match that of the existing building. 
Luckily, the matching the red tile roof would not be a problem, because the original tile 
company, H. G. Goldam was still in business and still carried the same red tile almost 75 
years later (Knutson and Newcomer 40-42). 

During the construction, for the next year-and-a-half, the library tried to function as 
normally as possible. While working with no electricity, Librarian Marty O'Brien 
remembers checking books out manually on paper with the aid of a flashlight and driving 
to nearby businesses to use the washroom when there was no water (O'Brien Interview). 
Employees and patrons heard many loud noises during the construction, including 
jackhammers, drills, saws, etc. But, over the entire year-and-a-half, the library closed for 
only two days due to construction (Knutson and Newcomer 47). 

On February 2,1987, volunteers gave their time and energy to move the books and 
other equipment from the old side of the library to the new. But the work was not done 
yet. After the renovations were complete on the old side of the library, the books were 
moved again and placed in their final home. 

The entire construction and remodeling was done by the summer of 1 987. On June 7, 
1987, the people of Belvidere were invited to an Open House. On this sunny 90-degree 
day, with over 500 people attending, the Belvidere Jr. High Jazz Band performed, there 


was a balloon release, and a time capsule was installed in the lower level. In the time 
capsule were programs from the dedication, the ground breaking, and the 1 00-year 
anniversary, as well as photos of the library in its three locations; the 1885 City Hall 
location, the 1912 Carnegie building, and the 1987 expanded and remodeled building. The 
opening of the time capsule will be June 7, 2087 (Knutson and Newcomer 42). It will be 
interesting to see what changes there will have been by then. 

Circulation in 1991 was 160.108 and parking, or rather the lack of it, was again an 
issue for the library. To ease this problem, the library bought the land that adjoined the 
parking lot. Also in the early 1 990s. the library installed a new computer system (Knutson 
and Newcomer 53-55). It would seem the winds of change would never stop blowing. 

By the end of the 1990s, Ida had weathered the winds nicely. In the beginning, she 
occupied a small corner of the City Hall and only had a handful of books to offer. Today, 
with a spacious building, she has a multitude of services to offer. With everything from 
photocopiers to compact discs, the library offers adult and children's fiction, magazines, 
newspapers, large print books, TDD (telephone device for the hearing impaired), and 
computers that are internet ready. It has a local history and genealogy room, and also a 
meeting room that can be reserved for use by the public. Circulation for 1 999 was 
172,091 (Ida Library Board of Trustees), and no structural changes have occurred since 
that time. Ida has undergone many changes over the past 106 years, but her underlying 


purpose, to provide a service to the community, has not changed. Ida has changed and 
improved with the changing times and will more than likely change more as the community 
needs continue to change. 

Sorenson- 1 
Works Cited 

Bial. Linda LaPuma, and Raymond Bial. The Carnegie Library in Illinois . USA: U of 

Illinois P. 1991. 
Ida Public Library Board of Trustees. Ida Public Library Pamphlet. Belvidere: 1999. 
Knutson. Jan, and Jean Newcomer. For the Love Ida. Belvidere: 1993. 
Leone. Bruno, and Judy Smith. The Energy Crisis. St. Paul: Green Haven, 1981. 
O'Brien. Marty, Librarian, Ida Public Library. Personal Interview. 13 Nov. 2000. 
Walter, Pat, Children's Librarian, Ida Public Library. Personal Interview. 13-Nov 2000. 
Wetterau, Bruce. The New York Public Library Book of Chronologies. Prentice Hall: 

New York, 1990. 

Where Once Thousands Passed Through Daily: 

The Illinois Central Station 


Tim Manning 



Tim Manning 
English 101 IND 

Where Once Thousands Passed Through Daily: 
The Illinois Central Depot 

Imagine being able to make it from Rockford to downtown Chicago 
in under two hours regardless of the traffic situation. Now imagine if this 
could be done for under ten dollars round trip. That is cheaper than the price 
of gas. and parking! One would probably wonder, what is the catch, right? 
Well, there is no catch. This was reality sometime ago. How could this be 
done? On the train. The following paragraphs will describe the rise and fall 
of one of the trains that served Rockford, the Illinois Central. It will also 
show how a few people are working to get the passenger train revitalized in 
Rockford. along with the abandoned train yard. 

In 1 886, the Illinois Central Railroad decided to build a line from 
Chicago to Freeport to link up with western lines. The original plan was 
to have the line pass seven miles south of Rockford, but a group of Rockford 
businessmen, lead by E. W. Brown , knew the positive impact the railroad 
would have on the young city. After first failing, they eventually persuaded 
the railroad to change their plan, and pass through Rockford ("First I.C."). 


The land that both the freight and passenger stations were to be built on was 
purchased from Robert Tinker for fifty thousand dollars. The property was 
located between South Main, and Winnebago Streets, south of Cedar Street, 
and aiong the north side of Kent Creek ("Rockford Rail Yards" 1 A+) (see 
appendix A). This was not an ordinary plot of land, though, but instead the 
home of the Manny Mansion. 

John Holland, a banker, built the mansion originally in 1854 

olyneaux, interview). After his death in 1 860, Mary Manny purchased the 
mansion, along with the property from his widow. The mansion was one of 
Rockforcfs most impressive homes, surrounded by spacious lawns, formal 
gardens, and winding paths. It had a pond, used for ice skating in the winter, 
and a glass house with exotic tropical plants. Years later, Mary Manny 

tried her longtime employee, Robert Tinker. Tinker, was famous in his 
own right for the Swiss-style cottage he had built on a limestone bluff 
overlooking the Manny Mansion. After selling the mansion the couple 
moved into the cottage fulltime. It was originally used as a summer home 

In January 1888, the mansion was demolished, and construction began 
on the Illinois Central Railroad's freight and passenger stations. By August 
of 1 888, both buildings were completed in time for the first train arrival. 
The old station was very well landscaped with lush gardens, and winding 


walkways along Kent Creek. Perhaps that was part of the initial agreement 
\\nen Robert Tinker sold the property to the Illinois Central for the station to 
be Dui it on, after all he did own a home looking down over the station. 

The Illinois Central Railroad, along with the other railroads that 
shared the train yard, prospered for many years in Rockford. Thousands of 
passengers and millions of tons of freight passed through the station daily 
(Rockford Rail Yards 1 A+). They were largely responsible for the city's 
early growth (First I.C.). In 1941, the Illinois Central announced a forty- 
percent increase in freight traffic, and a twenty-percent increase in passenger 
service ("I.C. Ready"). Seven years later, however, things would change. In 
February 1948, in the midst of a coal shortage by order of the Office of 
Defense Transportation, the Illinois Central discontinued four trains 
("Land O'Corn"). This, coupled with better highways and more people 
owning their own automobiles, caused passenger usage to slowly trickle 
away to the point it was no longer profitable for the railroads to provide 
passenger service in Rockford. 

Even with the slowdown in passenger usage, and many other railroads 
ending their Rockford service, the Illinois Central, in 1953, decided to 
demolish the original passenger station, and build a smaller more modern 


station. The demolition was completed by Parson's Wrecking Company of 
Rockford ("Rockford Firm"). W.B. Johnson and Sons of Chicago was the 
general contractor for the project ("Finish Work"). In May 1953, the old 
station was demolished, and construction began on the new station. A 
wooden structure was built to house the ticket office and baggage room until 
a new station was completed ("Rockford Firm"). The new station was built 
with many modern day luxuries: built-in phone booths, soundproof 

lings, and a drinking fountain ("Issue"). It was, however smaller in size, 
and less picturesque. The new station no longer had the gardens, nor the 
winding paths. It was built to serve a purpose only, not to be a thing of 
beauty (see Appendix B,C,and D). According to L.E.Richmond, then 
Rockford's General Agent for the Illinois Central railroad: 

No one uses our station for waiting between trains, 
because there are no other trains. Shortly after each train 
leaves, most of the arrivals have found their way to cabs 
or a bus line and are out of the station. 
The old station was built when the railroad first came to 
Rockford in 1888. In those days people came to the 
station in horse drawn buses, carriages, or wagons, and 
they came maybe an hour before train time and sat 
around and talked. ("Old Train Station 11 ). 

Manning- 5 

On June 5, 1954. Wayne A. Johnston, then president of the Illinois 
niral Railroad, dedicated the new, $250,000 passenger station. The cost of 
new station was seven times more then the price of construction for the 
original station ("Officials"). 

Despite the new station, three years later the Illinois Central 
announced they were dropping two more trains to Rockford, claiming they 
were losing $200,000 a year on the runs ("IC To Drop 11 ). On April 30 
1971. the last passenger train, 11 The Hawkeye 11 rolled out of the Illinois 
Central Station, and Rockford, for the last time (Commuter 11 ). 

The train station still holds many memories for the people who used 
,emories range from a simple day trip to the Arlington Park Horse 
Trade . to celebrate a birthday (Fraley), to a bittersweet memory of a 
.^cwenteen-year-old's first trip away from home to join the service 
(Franklin). For this author, having never ridden on the Illinois Central, there 
is no personal experience. For him, coming from a family that did not own a 
car for many years, the train depot seemed like a thousand miles away: 

Whenever I was able to spend the night at my cousins 1 
house, my aunt would come pick me up, and we would 
drive past the station on the way to their house. Having a 
model railroad at home, it was neat to look out over the 
train yard from the Winnebago Street Bridge, and look 


for some layout ideas (Manning). 

m 1973. newly elected Mayor Robert McGraw vowed to bring back 
passenger service to Rockford, and did in 1974, when he convinced the State 
and Amtrak to begin serving Rockford using the Illinois Central Station. 
Due to McGraw's relentless promoting, the usage of the train was steady 
through the mid-1970s. By the late 1970s, and early '80s usage dropped off 
though, due to a combination of trains that routinely broke down, did not run 
on-time, and passengers who felt the area around train station was no longer 
safe. In 1982 the Amtrak left Rockford for good ("Commuter"). 

recently as July 1999, there have been efforts to revitalize the 
abandoned train yard. Two new freight railroads, the Illinois and Missouri, 
and the Illinois Railnet, are in the process of investing money, time, and 
effort in Rockford. The rest of the area is being targeted by local 
government, and entrepreneurs, for new parks, boutiques, apartments, and 

. .5. In 1985. State Representative John Hallock (R-Rockford), 
envisioned this area to be converted into a state park someday. He even 
convinced then Governor James R. Thompson to set aside $500,000 for the 
project. Hallock went on to run for Congress, though, and the park was 
forgotten, the money never was spent, and eventually was lost. "My plan for 
ui this area was to make it an urban state park. You could bring your family 
here, picnic, go tubing in the creek, walk through gardens. It would be 

Manning- 7 

beautiful, " Hallock said on a walking tour in June of 1999 ("Rockford Rail 
Yards"). State Representative Doug Scott (D-Rockford), would like to see 
passenger service return to Rockford. METRA, Chicago's commuter train 
agency, has expressed interest in serving Belvidere and Rockford. Currently, 
rvard is the furthest west the METRA comes ("Commuter"). 

ni the summer of 2000, the original Illinois Central Freight Station 
was gutted by fire, and eventually was demolished, eliminating the last 
symbol of Rockford' s once thriving railroad service ("Demolition"). This 
building also was once slated for renovation into a farmer's market, but was 
shot down by the owners of the property clue to liability concerns with 
peopie safety around active train tracks ("Rockford Rail Yards"). Hopefully, 
the other plans for this area do not get shot down also. 

Unfortunately, the past was not able to be preserved, and now all 
nave are pictures. It was once said during the demolition of the old 
Manny Mansion, the railroad that killed an old mansion brought a new 
life ("First I.C."). Perhaps with the recent demolition of the Illinois Central 
Freight Station, new life will be brought into this forgotten area. One can 
only hope. 

p^eodv^ l\ 



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/t^td tl ~7--^^-?X-^ L & '; '■'■' ='• y-, Photo by LeaiiOieTman Sweeny 

Earfy 1900s: "mis' Is hew Rockfbrd's Illinois Cerita#>«se^ 

tion looked then, as seen from the grounds of Tinker $v^ttotta^3r 

Exterior of $200,000 Depot Completed 

LOCAL Rockford Register Star, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2000 ISA |i 

Rockford, 1906 

This train wreck took place near the South Main Street railroad station. Pictured in the foreground is the Win- 
nebago Street viaduct. The gentleman in the white coat in the bottom right-hand corner is Richard Wibom's 
grandfather, Eric Wibom Sr.; he died in 1937. 

If you have an old photo from the Rockford area that you'd like to have considered for The Way We Were, 
mail it to the Rockford Register Star newsroom, 99 E. State St, Rockford, IL 61104, attention: The Way We 
Were. Please include caption information, return address and your telephone number. Photos are run on a 
space available basis. Please do not send newspaper clippings or photo copies. 


Works Cited 
"Commuter train still a possibility for Rockford." Rockford Register Star 
;I1] 25 July 1999: 3B. 
Demolition gets under way on burned-out former depot. 11 Rockford 
Register Star [111 2000: rip. 
"Finish Work On New I.C. Station Soon. 11 Rockford morning Star [111 29 
Now 1953: np. 

irst I.C. Railroad Train Came to Rockford in 1 888. " Rockford Morning 
Star [111 21 Jan. 1951: np. 
FraleyXevonne. Phone interview. 22 Oct. 2000. 
Franklin, George. Personal interview. 7 Nov. 2000. 

. Ready To Handle Record Rail Traffic. 11 Rockford Morning Star [II] 29 
uig. 1941 : np. 

To Drop Two Trains To Rockford. 11 Rockford Register [II] 27 July 
1957: np. 
"Issue Permits for $200,000 Station Today." Rockford Morning Star [II] 9 
Jan. 1953: np. 

,and O'Corn And Sinnissippi Quit Operating Today . 11 Rockford Morning 
Star [II] 1948: np. 
Manning, Tim. Personal interview. 20 Oct. 2000. 
Molyneaux, John. Personal interview. 12 Oct. 2000. 


"Officials Aid In Dedication cost $250,000. 11 Rockford Morning Star [II] 5 

June 1954: np. 

Vain Station. Almost deserted, Awaits wreckers. 11 Rockford Morning 

Star [111 19 May 1953: np. 
"Rockford Firm Gets Contract. 11 Register Republic [Rkfdjl] 10 June 1953: 

'Rockford Rail Yards in Line for Face Lift. 11 Rockford Register Star [II] 25 
July 1999: 1A+. 
Rockfordiana files, Rockford Public Library. 

The Formation of a Natural Masterpiece: The Klehm Arboretum 

Stephanie Gundry 
28 November 2000 

Stephanie Gundry Gundry - 1 

English 101 
December 15, 2000 

The Formation of a Natural Masterpiece: The Klehm Arboretum 

Long before Rockford was ever thought about, a grove of Bur Oak trees stood 
watch over the Rock River. These trees, some estimated at over 300 years old, 
provided shelter to the Winnebago and HoChunck Indians, as well as over 80 species 
of birds, deer and other wildlife ("Jewel"). These trees are considered rare and today 
are joined by many other rare specimens such as the spiny Hemiptelea from 
Northern China and the Japanese Pagoda tree thanks to the efforts of one individual, 
William Lincoln Taylor (Mission;"Preserve"). 

In 1923, William Lincoln Taylor started the Rockford Nursery on South Main 
Street. His offices were located at 519/520 Brown. Rockford was a growing 
community in those days with a population of 65,651 (Rockford 1923). The influx of 
Swedish immigrants after the Civil War elevated Rockford's status and resulted in the 
second largest furniture-manufacturing site in the United States (Molyneaux 1). 
These furniture companies were unique in their business philosophy in that most 
were cooperatives, with laborers and craftsmen holding significant ownership. The 
City was a growing industrial center with several machine tools, machinery, fasteners 
and cabinet hardware companies. 

William Taylor (WL) was a graduate of the University of Illinois in Landscape 
Architecture (Moorhead Personal). This education was the beginning of a successful 
career in the Rockford area. He started out in 1918 as a driver for C. A. Swanstrom, 
a grocer on Kilburn Avenue (Rockford 1918). By 1920, he was known as a 

Stephanie Gundry Gundry-2 

English 101 IND 
November 10, 2000 

landscape architect (Rockford 1920). Rockford Nursery was formed in 1923 
(Rockford 1923). He purchased at least four parcels of land between 1922 and 1924 
in the South Main area between Ogilby Avenue and Blackhawk Avenue (Deed). The 
other main parcels of land were not purchased until sometime later, but may have 
been rented in the interim. 

WL was a shrewd businessman. Most of his nursery stock was planted from 
cuttings or seed. He read the Arnold Arboretum Newsletters and may have 
purchased seeds, some coming all the way from Japan (Moorhead Telephone). He 
liked to experiment with different specimens, evident today with the numerous rare 
plants remaining on the site. He also believed in using good old horse manure as 
fertilizer. According to Jim Morehead, a former employee, WL did not want to make 
a profit for fear of paying taxes. This may have been a direct result of the 
Depression, a time when many people lost everything they owned. 

It appears the bulk of the property listed as SE quarter of Section 33 and the 
SW quarter of Section 34 was purchased on July 12, 1948 from Katherine Spengler 
(Deed). From 1924 to 1948 the Rockford Nursery address was 2305 South Main. 
The office and greenhouses were located in the Ogilby/Blackhawk area and is where 
the plants were started from seed or from cuttings. Hardwoods were trimmed in the 
fall and put in cold storage for the winter. In the spring they were placed in the 
propagation beds and once the new plants reached a desirable size, they were 
transplanted to the nursery fields on South Main Street (Moorhead Telephone). 

Stephanie Gundry Gundry-3 

English 101 IND 
November 10, 2000 

By 1949 the address changed to 241 1 South Main (Rockford 1949). The 
property that contained the nursery plants had two homes, one of which was located 
at the top of the nursery entrance drive. This old farmhouse was occupied by 
William's brothers Everette and George, both of whom helped with the business. The 
other house was located on the southern perimeter near the garages. Rooms 
located above the garages were fixed up and rented to the nursery help (Moorhead 

The Rockford Nursery was a modest business. Shirley Thompson, a former 
employee, remembers the small office where customers placed phone orders. "WL 
had an office space in the back where he worked on landscape designs. Everette 
was responsible for the growing fields," she said. "I remember Everette would fix 
lunch for WL everyday in the basement. WL was a methodical man and most of his 
customers waited two years for him to complete their landscape design." Landscape 
designs were done for several prominent residents of the city including Aldeens, 
Smith (Oil), Jackson (Kitchens) and Fred Swanson. Among the several businesses 
that benefited from William Taylor's unique landscaping are Rockford Memorial and 
Swedish American Hospitals, Wesley Willows, J.L. Clark, Amerock Corp. and the 
Rockford Women's Club (Moorhead Telephone). 

By 1968, William Taylor decided to retire and sold the business to Carl and 
Roy Klehm (Rockford 1968). The Klehms owned and operated a large nursery in 
Arlington Heights, Illinois ("Family's"). The Klehm name is widely associated in 
horticulture with peonies. Still to this day, the Klehm Peony is widely sought after. 

Stephanie Gundry Gundry-4 

English 101 IND 
November 10, 2000 

The Klehms kept the Rockford Nursery name and used the property as a wholesale 
nursery, digging the plants without replanting. Most of the stock that remained had 
been allowed to grow for several years and was of mature size and was a good 
business purchase for them (Moorhead Personal). 

Following the death of Carl Klehm, the family decided to donate the property to 
the Winnebago County Forest Preserve after they had visited the Severson Dells 
Forest Preserve. "The family saw the excellent job they did in Severson Dells and 
that impressed us," said Charles Klehm. The family wanted this property to be 
utilized as an arboretum, in memory of Carl and Lois Klehm (Sweeny, "Klehm" 8A). In 
1985, the deal was finalized with the Winnebago County Forest Preserve, thus 
beginning the Klehm Arboretum ("Family's";"Jewel";"NIBS). 

Shortly after this gift, the property became front-page news with the Central 
Avenue extension project. The City of Rockford attempted to take a portion of the 
land to extend Central Avenue to Harrison Avenue. The plan called for the road to 
bisect the property in half for a two-lane road with parking available along both sides 
(Sweeny, "Gift" 1 A). Charles Klehm objected to this, as did a majority of Winnebago 
County Board Members and did not allow the City of Rockford to elicit eminent 

In 1991 , the Winnebago County Forest Preserve entered into an agreement 
with the Northern Illinois Botanical Society (NIBS) to jointly develop the Klehm 
Arboretum (Mission). The NIBS was incorporated in 1989 after extensive research of 
other gardens and arboreta. The NIBS is a not-for-profit organization serving the 

Stephanie Gundry Gundry-5 

English 101 IND 
November 10, 2000 

communities of Northern Illinois. Their mission is to "stimulate and provide botanical 
education" for these communities. They chose the Rockford site based on a survey 
indicating 88% of those surveyed supported the establishment of a horticultural 
center in Northern Illinois (Mission). The agreement defines the Forest Preserve 
District as the owner of the property and provides financial assistance for 
maintenance based on revenues generated from a Botanical Garden tax. The NIBS 
manages the site and provides horticulture educational programs for the community 

Landscape architect Thomas Graceffa was commissioned to design the 
botanical garden center. His plans for Phase I were submitted in 1991 and outlined a 
main building to house classrooms and a gift shop, several show gardens and a two- 
mile paved walking path ("Jewel";"Preserve"). These plans by far contrasted with the 
small two-story building where Rockford Nursery's main office was located further 
north on South Main Street (Thompson). 

Plans for Phase I construction were launched in May 1992 with an estimated 
budget of $2 million ("Phase"). By 1993 a one-and-a-half mile paved walking path 
was completed along with a new entrance on Clifton Avenue and a parking lot. Gone 
was the original dirt path entrance on South Main. By 1994 construction on the 
Clarcor Garden Pavilion was started, named in honor of the first corporate donor. 
That summer saw the completion of the Member's Garden and fountain donated by 
the Winnebago County Garden Center and the Woodward Governor gazebo in 
memory of Calvin Covert (Mission;"Phase"). 

Stephanie Gundry Gundry-6 

English 101 IND 
November 10, 2000 

Shortly after the NIBS took over management of the property, Larry Hall of 
Hedricksen Care of Trees in Oak Brook, Illinois did a site inventory. He was provided 
a list of trees planted by Rockford Nursery and was skeptical he would find any 
surviving plants from the list ("Preserve"). "I doubted if certain questionable plants 
such as flowering dogwood, Korean fir, Umbrella magnolia, Japanese Pagoda tree 
and wisteria, to name a few, have survived," Hall said ("Preserve"). Shirley recalls 
the number of hours it took her to map the entire nursery for Everette. "Back in the 
early 1950s plastic was not as widely used as it is today and the names of the plants 
would disappear, so I would spend many hors charting the inventory," she said. Larry 
Hall called in help from George Ware and Bill Hess of the Morton Arboretum to 
identify some of the species of plants. It seemed that over the years some of the 
plants had cross-pollinated and seeded themselves to create their own varieties 
("Preserve"). Today the majority of the plants once again are tagged with the species 

After more than fifteen months of construction, the new Botanical Education 
Center was completed in November 1997. The Klehm Arboretum and Botanic 
Garden was opened to the public in March 1998 on a year round daily basis 
(Mission;"Phase"). The center relies heavily on its volunteers to maintain the site. 
One such gentleman is Jim Moorhead. He worked for Rockford Nursery from 1948- 
1954 and even today, with his failing eyesight, can recognized any number of plants 
on the property. Jim started his own landscaping business in 1954, but kept in 
contact with the Taylor brothers. Jim also knew Carl Klehm from college (Moorhead 

Stephanie Gundry Gundry-7 

English 101 IND 
November 10, 2000 

Telephone). It seems he has always been involved with this property in some 

Over time some things change while others stay the same. The Rockford 
Nursery is no longer in operation, yet its heritage lives on. Did William Taylor intend 
for this property to be an arboretum? Take an afternoon to visit the Klehm Arboretum 
and decide the answer to this question. He had the foresight to experiment with new 
plantings such as the Fringe tree, one of Thomas Jefferson's favorite and the Katsura 
trees from Japan (Mission;"NIBS"). Talk with the knowledgeable volunteers about the 
many species of plants and animals that habitat this property. Enjoy a relaxing walk 
along the nature path and rediscovery Mr. Taylor's masterpiece. 

Stephanie Gundry Gundry-8 

English 101 IND 
November 10, 2000 

Works Cited 

Deed EE Blough to WL Taylor. City of Rockford. 1 December 1922: Book296 p 436. 
Deed H Green to WL Taylor. City of Rockford. 21 December 1923:Book 299 p 457. 
Deed J LaForge to WL Taylor. City of Rockford. 21 December 1922: Book 289 p455. 
Deed K Spengler to WL Taylor. City of Rockford. 1 2 June 1 946: Book 626 p296. 
Deed S Busky to WL Taylor. City of Rockford. 29 October 1924: Book 308 p214. 
"Family's Legacy Lives on at Klehm Arboretum." Rockford Register Star 

23 December 1998: 4A 
"Jewel in Rough Comes Clean" Rockford Register Star 4 March 1 991 : 1 C. 
Mission Northern Illinois Botanical Society, Klehm Arboretum Site History, 

Summary of Site Inventory Published by NIBS.: September 1999. 
Molyneaux, John. Historian. "A Short History of Rockford, Illinois." Online: 4pp 1997 

Available: . 
Moorhead, Jim. Personal Interview. 25 August 2000. 
Moorhead, Jim. Telephone Interview. 25 October 2000. 

"NIBS Finds Preserve Just in Time." Rockford Register Star 20 October 1989: 1D. 
"The Phase I Development Project." Rockford Register Star 3 May 1998: Ad5. 
"Preserve Board to Get Klehm Plans." Rockford Register Star 1 November 1990:1F. 
Rockford, City of. Rockford City Directory 1918. 
Rockford, City of. Rockford City Directory 1920. 
Rockford, City of. Rockford City Directory 1923. 

Stephanie Gundry Gundry-9 

English 101 IND 
November 10, 2000 

Rockford, City of. Rockford City Directory 1949. 

Rockford, City of. Rockford City Directory 1968. 

Sweeny, Chuck. "Gift Stalls Central Plans." Rockford Register Star 18 May 1986:1 A+. 

Sweeny, Chuck. "Klehm Wants Donation in Unblemished State..." 

Rockford Register Star 18 May 1986: 8A. 
Thompson, Shirley. Personal Interview. 2 November 2000. 

Butterfly Garden 

Resting Spot 

Covert Gazebo and Fountain Garden 

Krape Park: 

Freeport's Summertime Rest Stop 


William Joseph Boekholder 

Rock Valley College 

Boekholder 1 

William Boekholder 
English 101 DR1 
30 November, 2000 

Krape Park: Freeport's Summertime Rest stop 

Krape Park is located in the southwest section of Freeport, Illinois. The 
entrance is at the corners of Empire Street and Park Boulevard. Getting to Krape Park can 
be a wonderful and enjoyable ride through some of the most scenic country in Illinois. 
Paying attention will be a plus and will make the visit all that much more enjoyable; a 
map will also make it easier. The park is a place for people to gather for family reunions, 
and makes a perfect weekend getaway for the day. The park offers a scenic view for 
amateur as well as professional photographers. People come from miles around to enjoy 
the beauty and amenities that the park offers. 

The land, in the beginning, was referred to as the Beebe farm and owned by the 
Beebe family. Not much is written about the farm except that Dr. William Krape bought 
the farmland from the Beebe family sometime around the turn of the century. Dr. Krape 
was the head of a group of men known as The Royal Order of the Globe (History of 
Stephenson County). Dr. Krape had purchased the park as a meeting and gathering place 
for his group and their families. 

Back in the early 1900s, there were typical small town activities going on, such as 
people complaining about this that and the other thing, local businesses getting broken 
into, and basic dregs of human society getting arrested for various reasons. Looking back 
from today to then, not much has changed except the way crimes are being carried out. In 
the world as a whole, the United States was winding down from the "war to end all 

Boekholder 2 

wars," and the citizens were in the midst of electing a new president. Wilson ended up 
beating Taft for the presidency. 

Dr. Krape suggested that the newly formed Freeport Park Commission buy the 
park from him and turn it into a city park in August 191 1 . Dr. Krape wanted $29,500 for 
the land, and the park commission wanted to give him $28,500. Back in the early 1900s, 
this was a good chunk of money, so they haggled over the price. They finally split the 
difference with the price being just $29,000. On November 29, 1912, a special vote was 
held for the people of Freeport to vote on buying the land. The vote passed by a margin 
of 1550 yes votes to 543 no votes. This was such an important vote that the Stover 
factory gave their employees an extra hour at lunchtime to go and vote ( Freeport Daily 
Journal ). In May of 1913, the land was purchased from Dr. Krape for $29,000, with the 
stipulation that the name Krape Park be used until the park is no longer a park. 

Not much has changed in the park over the years as far as the way things have 
been laid out. Everything is still as it was except for the addition of a few modern 
buildings and the road system being paved. 

In 1917, the water system was built for the park on what is called Windmill Hill. 
This hill is on the main road loop and is the second highest point in the park. Flagstaff 
Hill is the highest. The original well was sunk and a windmill was erected to power the 
pump, thus the name Windmill Hill. Even though the hill is not referred to as Windmill 
Hill today, the original well is still there and can be found if one looks carefully. 

In 1916, W.T Rawleigh offered assistance in putting a zoo in the park. Sometime 
in 1918 the zoo became a reality. Even though the park commission did not learn from 
their counterparts to the east, Rockford, Illinois, they still went ahead with the plans and 

Boekholder 3 

started a zoo. The board bought the entire zoo, except for the elephant, that was over in 
Rockford's Blackhawk Park, and shipped the animals to Freeport. There were also 
donations of animals from various people in Freeport. The zoo lasted for ten years. The 
cost for upkeep of the animals was tremendous, so in 1924 all the meat-eating animals 
were sold except the lion and the tiger. In 1928 the animals in the zoo were returned to 
their owners, donated to other zoos or sold. Gus the buffalo, which was named after Gus 
Boehland, one of the founders of the Blackhawk Park zoo in Rockford, and a former 
Freeport native, was the last animal tenant in the park. Gus was euthanatized in 1928 
marking the official end of the Krape Park Zoo. 

The dam was constructed during the years 1916 through 1918 on Yellow Creek. It 
was made out of oak logs and concrete, and the logs are still there today under the 
cement. The design of the dam is an interesting one as it is called a shovel dam. It does 
not have a solid wall like most dams. Instead, it has a slope on the upstream side that goes 
from about four inches below the top of the dam, down to approximately four feet below 
the surface of the creek (Cassidy). This allows the water to flow smoothly without any 
pressure on the dam, and also allows for self-cleaning of objects such as leaves and 
sticks. The dam was built on a dry creek bed. In order for this to happen, the creek was 
diverted around the area where the dam was built. Today, visitors can still see how and 
where the creek was diverted. From the south side of the dam and facing west, visitors 
will see the outline of the diversion running back towards the duck pond and around the 
corner to the south where the boat dock and parking lot are. 

The icehouse, which no longer exists, was moved to where the boathouse is today 
back in 1918 from Robert Koenig's property. It was moved during the wintertime by 

Boekholder 4 

putting it on skids and dragging it through the snow by horse. Moving the icehouse 
provided the park with a building to store their canoes and boats that the people used 
during the summer (Goddard). 

The main entrance bridge on the road leading into the park is the same as it was 
when it was built back in 1919. W. H. Shons built the bridge to cross Yellow Creek 
entirely out of concrete. Over the years, the bridge has only had minor repairs and an 
occasional paint or white wash job done to it. The other entrance bridge off of Woodside 
Drive on the south side of the park was built at the same time as the drive with grants 
from the W.P.A. 

In the early part of the thirties, it was decided to develop the other side of Yellow 
Creek known as Flagstaff Hill. A waterfall was built on the front face of the hill by the 
road with steps running up the side of it for people to climb. There used to be lights that 
put a colorful glow on the falls at night during the summer when the falls were running. 
Presently, there are just plain white lights that adorn the falls. Anna Belle Nimmo 
remembers as a child climbing up and down the steps. "The boys would holler about us 
falling down and throw dirt at us, but nobody ever got hurt," Anna Belle explained. An 
individual by the name of Adolf Link built the waterfall and the water system required to 
run it. The waterfall is still running to this day, but the steps were closed down due to 

In 1934, the community house was built with funds and help acquired through the 
W.P.A. The all-stone building is still in its original place, but is used as an ice-warming 
house during the winter when the creek is frozen enough to skate on. In its day it was a 

Boekholder 5 

state-of-the-art building with running water, indoor toilets, and a kitchen for cooking 
during get-togethers, as was the custom of the day. 

Most of the projects that were completed back in the early years were with the 
help of grants from the Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.). The W.P.A. was started 
in 1935 at the beginning of FDR's "Second New Deal". The philosophy of the W.P.A 
was to put the unemployed to work doing community projects instead of just handing out 
money in the form of welfare. At the time most people thought that the grants were 
nothing more than dirty Democrat money. Charles Demeter, one of the park 
commissioners, picked these grants up after the county turned them down. He didn't care 
where the money came from, just that it was free and could be used to improve the parks 
(Cassidy). Part of getting the grants was the need for matching funds. This is were the 
private individuals were tapped for the money. Most of the matching funds were in the 
form of loans from these individuals. It was paid back at a 5% rate until the loan was paid 
in full, or if the person who loaned the money died. If the person died before the loan was 
paid off, the rest of the loan reverted back to the park district as paid in full. 

This only brings the park up to the 1940's. There was still a lot of development to 
be done in the park to bring it up to modern times. The park has always had things done 
to it just like any park, and the end was still not in sight. The construction and 
development was always going on to make it a safer and more enjoyable park in the years 
to come for the people that come to the park on the weekends. 

The year was 1940. There was an open field on the south side of the park that 
needed something to fill the void. Mr. and Mrs. Robert Koenig knew how to fill the void 
and had an idea that was just right for the area. In 1937 the idea that there was a need for 

Boekholder 6 

an outdoor theater was born. The structure would be used for the weekly concerts and 
plays and would be outdoors for the entire city to enjoy. The field in the south loop 
provided and ideal place to build such a structure. Stanley Howe designed a band shell in 
the same year the idea was concieved. Construction of the band shell began in 1938 at the 
bottom of Windmill Hill on the south side of the park. 

Concrete, wood and steel were the main ingredients used in the construction of 
the band shell. In the shape of a huge white concave seashell, it sets in direct contrast to 
the surrounding area. The stage area being approximately 500 square feet, is suitable in 
size for the intended concerts and plays. Dressing rooms and storage areas are found in 
the basement underneath the stage instead of the sides and back, which would be typical 
of a regular stage (County of Stephenson). 

The seating out front accommodates about 1500 people. Benches made out of 
wood and steel provide a viewing area out in the grass. This is basic seating and nothing 
fancy. The grass on the hill, and on the sides of the benches made an alternative seating 

In 1940, the band shell was completed and ready for its first performance. Mr. and 
Mrs. Koenig donated the entire band shell in memory of Mrs. Koenig's brother Wilbur T. 
Rawleigh, Who died during WW I. 

In 1959, Mr. and Mrs. William Koenig, Robert Koenig's son and daughter- in- 
law bought and donated a merry-go-round to the park district to be put up in Krape Park. 

The carousel was designed and built by the Alan R. Hershel Company of North 
Tonawando, New York. The original design of the carousel was called a Country Fair 
style. This meant it could be taken down and moved if necessary, just like a country fair 

Boekholder 7 

moving from one county to another. There are 20 aluminum horses, for those that like to 
go up and down, and two chariots, for those that like to sit still. 

Total cost for the merry-go-round brand new in 1959 was $15,554, including 
shipping and handling from New York (Freeport Park Office). Original cost for a ride 
was just ten cents. Today it only costs twenty-five cents. Not bad considering inflation. 

An 18-hole miniature golf course was constructed next to the baseball field, south 
of the new parking lot in 1991. This furthered the attractions of the park by appealing to 
any age, because lets face it, almost everyone likes to play mini golf. The cost of playing 
is cheap and small compared to the challenge of the course and what is found at other 
courses in the area. 

Another major attraction was constructed on 1992 in the main circle, south of the 
merry-go-round. A Kids Kastle playground was erected for the kids, and some adults 
who think they are still kids. It was built mainly from private donations and labor. This 
not only gave the kids hours upon hours of entertainment, but it also allowed the parents 
to watch and relax. 

During the summer of 2000, Krape Park probably saw what was the most 
ambitious and extensive construction in its 88 years of existence. Many projects were 
combined into on big package and completed during the summer months. 

A bike path extension with a bridge over Yellow Creek was constructed. This 
allowed bikers and hikers to avoid the main bridge and stay out of traffic's way. The 
duck pond walls were torn out and replaced. An aerator /fountain was installed in the 
pond to keep the water moving and circulating. This also keeps the nasty stuff, pond 
scum, from growing in the pond. Down by the dam, a new black-topped parking lot was 

Boekholder 8 

put in to replace the gravel on that was being used. In the same area, a new brick- 
retaining wall also replaced the creek bank below the dam. A handicap-accessible fishing 
pier was constructed to allow everyone a chance to catch some trout that is stocked into 
the creek. Last, but not least, the main pavilion was gone over and refurbished. 

Over the years, the band shell has succumbed to the typical problems of weather 
and the elements. Even though the concrete has been repaired and kept in fairly good 
shape, there was still a need for an overhaul. In 1998, the stonework around the base was 
replaced and refurbished at a cost of $17,000. The summer of 2000 proved the biggest 
undertaking to date on the band shell. The interior cement was redone back to like-new 
condition and the seating was replaced. The roof was covered with an industrial 
rubberized roofing material and does not need any repair (Freeport Park District). 

What used to be uneven grass with beaten down paths between the benches was 
replaced by four inches of cement. New benches on the cement pad replaced old ones that 
were wood, steel, and becoming an eyesore. The new benches were made out of recycled 
plastic and wood products; this made them totally maintenance free. 

Between what was done to the theater and the seating, the total cost came to 
S3 00,000. Senator's Seiben and Lawfer secured an Illinois First Grant that offset the cost 
of the renovations by $100,000. The "new" band shell was completed the same year it 
was started, 2000. It was rededicated and renamed the Koenig Theater after Mr. and Mrs. 
Robert Koenig (Freeport Park District). 

In September 1994, the entire carousel was dismantled for what was to be an 
overhaul and rejuvenation. The horses were getting a little tired and needed some new 
life breathed into them. Paint was starting to fade and wear in some areas so it was time. 

Boekholder 9 

The horses were first sent out to various auto body shops in the area for repairs. 
Since the horses were aluminum, this was a logical choice. After their trip to the shop, the 
horses were sent off to high schools in the area. Students at the schools repainted the 
horses and bring them back to life, vibrant and clean, just like new. The horses were 
judged as an art contest with cash prizes given to the schools that had the best horse 
(Freeport Park District). 

After the carousel was put back together, like new, it was reopened in May of 
1995. Mr. and Mrs. William Koenig were there for the reopening; they also took a ride on 
the "new" merry-go-round, just like 31 years ago. 

Total cost for these projects were to the tune of $400,000. Out of this, $200,000 
was from grants and donations. From the years 1990 to 2000, over two million dollars 
was spent on restoration and new construction. Approximately $600,000 of the total cost 
was from grants and donations (Freeport Park District). 

The Park District has done a good job of keeping the park as close to original as 
possible. Throughout the years, the park has changed with the times. Luckily, this has 
been accomplished with revitalizing the buildings and areas that were originally there 
with very little disturbance to the original aesthetics of the park. Dr. Krape would be 
proud of what has happened to the park. In almost 90 years of existence as Krape Park, it 
hasn't changed much from the original. Like this writer says " The more things change, 
the less people will notice or care," in other words, even though things change, if you do 
it right it won't be a drastic change to the eyes. 

Boekholder 10 

Over the years Krape Park has provided a peaceful and tranquil place for play and 
rest. Regardless of age, the park provides something for everyone. Whether it's a lazy 
boat ride down Yellow Creek or an invigorating game of tennis, it's there for the public. 

Good maintenance practices of the facilities insure a safe place to rest or play in 
an outdoor environment. The numerous entrances make the park accessible from almost 
any direction. This makes the park almost impossible to find, but if you do, just stop and 
ask someone, everyone in town knows were it is. 

The park has been around for over 80 years. With the fine job the community and 
the Park Commission have done, it should be around for another 80 or so years. 

Last but not least, something that probably wasn't thought of at the time the park 
changed hands: 
If you take Krape Park and spell it backwards, it still spells Krape Park. 

Globe Park about 1910 showing unpaved roadway, park 
superintendent's home and iron bridge. 

A modern bandshell, facing a natural amphitheatre, is one of the unique features of Krape Park. 
It provides a musical arts facility in a background of community recreation. The shell is 54 feet 
wide and 36 feet high at the center. Its platform has an. area of approximately 500 square feet. 
I here is space beneath the platform for dressing rooms and storage. s 


A close'up of one of the bridges in Krape Park. One of the notable features is the shaded, com' 
fortable approach seen at the right. 

'-.■;^.\.'- , . ■. . 

This "Niagara in a dry land" with colored lights playing on it 
is a unique feature of Krape Park. 

Works Cited 
Cassidy, Michael. Personal interview. October. 2000. 
County of Stephenson, County Court House. History of Stephenson County, 1970. 

Freeport, II. 1972. 
Freeport Daily Journal . Friday November 8, 1912. 

Freeport Park District Office. Personal Files. Steve Ehlbeck, Superintendent of Parks. 
Goddard, Mabel. Public Parks of Freeport, Illinois: Their First Century, 1849-1949. 

Freeport: Wagner, 1948. 
Nimmo, Anna Belle. Personal interview. 31 Oct. 2000 

Which Rockford Airport? 
Machesney Airport, Rockford' s First True Airport 


Cindy Castle 

29 November 2000 

Rock Valley College 

Cindy Castle Castle4 

English 101 

22 November 2000 


The excitement of being able to fly has intrigued mankind for many years. 
As aircraft progressed in style, power and the ability to fly greater distances, so came the 
need for airports to improve. In the 1920s, history was being made. It was the time of 
Prohibition, the Roaring 20s and the Great Depression. It was also the time for the 
Rockford area to acquire its first airfield, Machesney Airport. 

Fred Machesney was a pilot who had been barnstorming from approximately 
1924 through early 1927, charging $2.50 a ride ("Historical"). Barnstormers were former 
military pilots who, after WWI, were not needed by the military, and traveled the 
countryside with the surplus military planes they had purchased to give 'country-folk' 
airplane rides ("Turns"). 

"June 8, 1927, was the day I started in Rockford, [...]. I started first on the old 
Miller Farm" recalled Machesney ("Airport's"). Harlem Road, U.S. 51, and the Rock 
River bound the first Rockford Airport ("Machesney Day"). This first airport was a total 
of fifty-five acres with one hangar and two planes ("Plan"). 

Machesney soon found he needed to expand the runway to accommodate larger 
planes, specifically Burt Hassell's Detroit Stinson. Burt Hassell was planning a first by 
flying what would come to be known as "The Great Circle Route" ("The 
Life... Rockford"; "Historical"). Hassell had not been able to get support from any other 
airport. In 1928, with the help of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce, Fred Machesney 
was able to lease a 170-acre tract of land from William H. Ziock, Sr., adjacent and north 

Cindy Castle Castle2 

English 101 

22 November 2000 

of the present airport ("Machesney To"; "Options"; "Airport Site"). As soon as 
Machesney signed the lease, he assured Hassell he would have a place to work from 
("Machesney"; "The Life"; Stone 4). 

The land was "part cow pasture and part cornstalks" when Machesney took 
ownership ("Turns"). Machesney Airport did not require much demolition or 
construction to obtain a suitable airfield. Machesney tore down approximately one mile 
of fence, smoothed the rise from it, and seeded the furrows where the corn had been 
('Turns"). Farm buildings were razed to make way for hangars, but the farmhouse was 
left intact for Machesney to live in. Machesney recalled, "It was built in 1838, 1 think by 
a Ward Fabrick. He was one of the early settlers of what was Harlem Village then" 
("Leaving"). "One of the decendents of the old farm house just north of the airport told 
Fred that the house was once an inn on the Stage Coach Trail to Freeport, and that 
Abraham Lincoln stayed there for a night while on his way to the famous Lincoln 
Douglas debate in Taylor Park, Freeport" (McCarthy R). 

After construction on the second airport was completed, Machesney shut down 
the first airport. The final flight taken out of the first airport landed at the second airport. 
There was never a disruption of service ("Airport's"). 

The Machesney Airport had two grassy runways laid out in an 'X' formation, 
with lengths of 2500 feet and 3700 feet ("Options"). The first hangar was built in 1929 
("Local"). In 1930, hangars continued to be built until there were forty-six ("The 
Life. . .Rockford"). It became known as one of the best airports in this area and was 
referred to as Rockford Airport ("Local"; "Options"). 

Cindy Castle Castle-3 

English 101 

22 November 2000 

Burt Hassell, with Parker Cramer, was to attempt a first-time transatlantic flight 
out of Machesney Airport to Greenland with the final stop at Stockholm, Sweden. The 
first attempt was July 26,1928. The plane had a fuel load of 700 gallons, which proved 
too heavy for the plane to carry. The two pilots had trouble getting the plane off the 
ground. With the plane shaking and shuddering, they managed to clear a small grove of 
trees and go over the river, only to crash in a cornfield off of Owen Center Road (Ravitts 
36; Picture... Machesney). 

After repairs were made and fuel stops recalculated, a second attempt was made 
on August 16,1928. The plane took off with 250 gallons of fuel, stopped in Cochrane, 
Ontario to refuel, and went on to Greenland. Over Greenland the two ran into very heavy 
cloud cover. When the thickness cleared, the pair realized they had strayed off course and 
were dangerously low on fuel. They made an emergency landing on the ice and made a 
plan to walk the rest of the way to the camp that was waiting for them there. They 
gathered some gear, a Very pistol, some cartridges and a hunting rifle, matches, a hunting 
knife, a wad of old weather reports to use as tinder, a Greenland chart and one tin cup. 
Their food supply was ten pounds of pemmican, which is lean dried meat pounded into 
cakes. They had boots and parkas but no mittens. With this the two set out on their 
journey. They expected to reach camp within a few days and return with fuel to be back 
on the route to Sweden. They were badly mistaken, however, and walked for over two 
weeks before they were rescued. The Stinson remained on the frozen tundra for forty 
years before being recovered (Ravitts 36-40; "Machesney"; "The Life"). 

Cindy Castle Castle4 

English 101 

22 November 2000 

In its day, Machesney Airport was used for passenger service, airmail, a weather 
reporting station, and Army training programs using twenty-three of Machesney' s planes 
("Students"; "Turns"; "Machesney Day"; "Airport; The Life...Rockford"). Fred 
Machesney also maintained a brown and orange root beer stand in the shape of a barrel 
on the property (Leimbach). Woodward Governor, of Loves Park, used the airport as a 
test site in the early sixties (Gilbert; McCarthy R; McCarthy D). Woodward had an old 
Westinghouse Jet Engine strapped to a flat bed truck that was chained down under a 
carport. "When fired up, this engine made some tremendous noise!" noted Rob 
McCarthy. The carport was attached to a small cinder block house. In the house, 
technicians would install frequency response analyzers and various instrumentation, fire 
up the engine and conduct frequency response tests. With this information, the company 
engineers could develop better fuel control systems (McCarthy R; McCarthy D). 

Machesney airport was also the site for personal aviation training and planes were 
available to rent. Steve Kuhn, mayor of Machesney Park, told of his experience around 
the time he graduated from high school. While working as a parts delivery person, he 
entered a store and noticed a box for a contest to win a free flying lesson. He entered and 
won the lesson. 

Another time, he and two friends had split the cost of renting an airplane. The 
cost, split three ways, was $6.00 a piece. He borrowed his parents' 8mm movie camera 
and told them he was "going for a ride". Steve and his friends took their sky ride around 
the area and eventually flew over the Kuhn home. Steve took footage of the house and 
property. One day the parents decided to watch movies. Everything was fine until the 

Cindy Castle Castle-5 

English 101 

22 November 2000 

aerial footage of the house played. In Mr. Kuhn's words, "There was some intense 
questioning going on about where that came fromr 

Business slowed some when the Greater Rockford Airport, at the end of 
Kishwaukee Street, opened in 1949. "They even solicited my own customers," said 
Machesney, "and I told them I thought that was going a little to far." Fred Machesney 
became a committee member of the group formed to promote the airport. He had realized 
the need for a larger airport in Rockford and at the same time realized he did not have 
enough money to make that possible ("The Life... Airport"). Corporate flights flew out of 
the Greater Rockford since it had hard surface runways while the smaller planes stayed at 

Disaster struck in the mid 1960s when all but one hangar was destroyed by a 
windstorm. The final hangar burned to the ground sometime in the early 1970s, started by 
children playing with matches ("The Life... Airport"). Due to age and health reasons, also 
the rising overhead costs, Machesney closed the airport in 1974. "I had reached the age 
when it was just a little to hard of a pace to keep going — to run the airport the way I 
wanted to run it. Also the capital investment on the property itself was tremendous, with 
taxes and insurances increased and the increase in the cost of airplanes," said Machesney 
('The Life... Airport"). The land was sold to JCPenny for the construction of a shopping 
complex ("Old"; "Airport's"). 

Today the Machesney Park Mall sits on the airport site. Fred Machesney holds 
the distinction, even to this day, of having held private ownership of a public airport for 
forty-seven years ("Airport's"; "Historical"; "Machesney"; "Airport"). 

Cindy Castle Castle6 

English 101 

22 November 2000 

Works Cited 

"Airport In Continuous Use For Past 36 Years." The Post 15 Aug. 1963; no page. 

"Airport Site of 160 Acres Is Selected: C. of C. Committee Leases Tract." Rockfordiana 

File 25 Feb. 1928; Aviation 1; Rockford Public Library; no page. 
"Airport's Sale Fits In History." Register Republic 20 Dec. 1974; no page. 
Gilbert, Doug. E-mail interview. 6 Nov 2000. 
"His Life And Love Revisited; Fred Machesney: A Man Remembered By All." Pilot 29 

My 1981; Vol 1 No. 8. 
"Historical Site Marker Explored." Register Republic 29 Aug. 1974; no page. 
Kuhn, Steve. Personal Interview. 3 Nov. 2000. 
"Leaving Airport Is Leaving Home To Old Aviator." Rockford Register Star 13 Sept. 

1974; no page. 
Liembach, Mary. "Pioneer's Plaque Lands In Aviation Hall Of Fame." Rockford Register 

Star 26 Feb. 1985; no page. 
"The Life And Love Of Fred Machesney: Airport Becomes Future Site Of New Mall." 

Pilot 12 Aug. 1981; Vol 1 No. 10; no page. 
"The Life And Love Of Fred Machesney: Rockford- Area Chosen As Site For Airport." 

Pilot 5 Aug. 1981; Vol 1 No. 9; no page. 
"Local Flying Field Reports Big Expansion: Machesney Declares 1929 Is Best Yet 

Experienced." Rockfordiana File 11 Jan. 1930; Rockford Public Library; no page. 
"Machesney Day Set For Sunday: 20 th Anniversary For Pioneer Aviator." Register 

Republic 3 June 1947; no page. 
"Machesney Hits '50 th ' Milestone." Rockford Register Star 29 Sept. 1969; no page. 

Cindy Castle Castle7 

English 101 

22 November 2000 

"Machesney To Operate City Field: Ziock Farm Is Leased By Aviator; Provides Modern 

Airport. " Register Republic 26 April 1928; no page. 
McCarthy, Doug. E-mail interview. 6 Nov. 2000. 
McCarthy, Rob. E-mail interview. 10 Nov. 2000. 

"Old Airport Fire Loss Is $8000." Rockford Register Star 6 May 1975; no page. 
"Options Taken For 160 Acres North Of City: Long Double Runways Will Be Avalible 

And Hangars Will Be Built, Chamber Responsible." Rockfordiana File Aviation 1: 

25 Feb. 1928; Rockford Public Library; no page. 
"Penneys Has Option On Airport Property." Rockford Register Star 19 April 1973; no 

Pictures. Local History Room. North Suburban Library. 
Pictures. Machesney Park City Hall. 
"Plan To Honor Machesney On Airport's 20 th Anniversary." Rockford Register Star 

4 June 1947; no page. 
Stone, Bob. "Machesney' s Was First Official Airport." Journal 16 Dec. 1998: -4. 
"Students Take Flying Lessons: 10 Enrolled In Beloit College Course Given Experience 

At Airport." Register Republic 17 Dec. 1939; no page. 
'Turns Pasture Into A Modern Flying Field." Rockford Register Star 17 Aug. 1941; 

no page. 












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